Two precincts get trial run use of new sign-in touch pads

Posted May 29, 2019 at 8:40 am

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Of the 7,639 registered voters in Clinton County, 151 voters in the West Albany and South Albany precinct got to experience the future when it comes to signing in to vote.

Both precincts were used for a trial run during the primary election last Tuesday to use the new touch pad log in application.

“It will replace the paper log people have used in the past,” County Clerk Nathan Collins said. “Now, the clerk at the precinct can either scan your driver’s license or type in your name to pull your information.”

Collins said the new touch pad does several things better than the paper log and has more functions that the paper log does not.

“It will tell you if you are in the wrong precinct or not and will direct you to the right precinct,” Collins said.

In the past, in order to find out which precinct a person votes in, that person would have to call the clerk’s office and a staff member would have to look up the name.

“The second thing is it saves on paper,” Collins said. “Right now, the 11 precincts that didn’t use the touch pad in May, I have to box up the rosters, mail them out (to state election offices), then they have to mail them back to us. The two that had the touch pads, the state gets it as soon as I upload it.”

Collins said it could make going to the polls a lot quicker.

“Especially if people bring their driver’s license,” Collins said. “They just scan it and pull it up.”

According to Collins, the election officers who were stationed at the two precincts and used the touch pads were more than positive about using the new technology.

“The officers loved them,” Collins said. “It tells them how many people have voted, whereas before, they would have to count if they wanted to know. They know right away how many people has voted.”

Each touch pad will be equipped with a Internet device that is connected to the computer system at the clerk’s office.

“I will be able to see each precinct from the computer here,” Collins said. “Each touch pad will have a ‘Mifi’ to connect it to the Internet. If they don’t have service, the touch pad will still work.”

All this new technology can get costly with each county putting an iPad in each precinct along with cost of getting each device on the Internet, but Collins said it is all at no cost to the county.

“The state provides it all,” Collins said.

By the time November rolls around for the next election, Collins said he hopes to have all 13 precincts equipped with the touch pads.

“That’s my goal,” Collins said. “We will probably do a separate training to our usual precinct officer training just for the clerks so they can actually use them before the election.”

Collins said it will be a big help when it comes to city races and when there is multiple pages on the ballot.

“During city races, it will be able to tell if they are in the city or out of the city, which school board race they will vote in and it will be a lot easier than the rosters. The rosters had very tiny print that told all that information,” Collins said. “It’s actually a bigger area for the voters to sign.”

The new touch pads will display name, birthday, what precinct they are in, and it won’t let them sign if they have already voted absentee.

“All it tells is how many voters have voted and who has voted,” Collins said.

The touch pads aren’t directly hardwired into the voting booths, therefore voting is still secure and completely anonymous.

“There is nothing ballot related on the touch pads,” Collins said. “This is just to find the person and what precinct that person votes in. It’s not for who you vote for.”

Collins is excited to get the new technology into play in Clinton County.

“It will be a big help just to not have to deal with those paper rosters,” Collins said.

For those who are at the wrong place, Collins said the touch pad will have the ability to send a text to someone with directions to the precinct they are supposed to vote in.

For those who take the time to vote in the election on November 5, the new touch pads should be in place throughout the entire county.

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County Clerk Nathan Collins demonstrated to Democrat Election Officer David Warinner how the new touch pads worked during the primary election last week.