Assistant Managing Editor
The purchase of poll manager books to be used at polling locations to confirm addresses and where residents need to vote was tabled Wednesday by the Auglaize County Elections Board members.
Elections Board Director Carolyn Campbell said the idea to implement the tablets came from the state conference, but they come with a hefty price tag — $389 per unit if 16 or less are rented and a $1,000 set up fee per election.
“You can type someone’s name or address in to them and tell exactly where that person goes to vote,” Campbell said. “I though it might be good for places with multiple polling locations until I saw the cost.”
The tablets would contain all needed information on registered voters, limiting the number of calls needed to be made to the Elections Board Office on voting day as well as preventing errors before they occur.
“They would be nice, but they are expensive,” Auglaize County Elections Board member Mary Dee Malueg said, explaining that if it weren’t for the additional $1,000 to program the books prior to each election it wouldn’t be so bad.
According to Triad, a company that specializes in software and hardware for elections, the books utilize an Android tablet as the hardware platform with a touchscreen keyboard for data input.
The user interface is intuitive enough that minimal training would be needed.
The electronic book supplements data already provided in paper form making the poll worker’s job easier. A single unit could be used per polling location to service voters that cannot be found on the printed lists.
The hardware and software is rented to the county on a per election basis, allowing the county to utilize the benefits of the latest technology without incurring the cost of additional hardware maintenance and without annual software maintenance or upgrade fees each year. The books are sent to the county prior to the election and returned after, according to information from Triad.
Campbell also expressed concerns that in recent elections the state made last minute changes, which would have cost the Elections Board another $1,000 to fix after the initial set up fee was paid. At the same time, the county couldn’t wait too close to an election to have the tablets programmed because of the turnover time to have it done and the books shipped.
While the cost for the tablets would be charged back to cities and townships where they are used, she said that money would never make it back to the Elections Board’s budget.
“It is pretty costly and the cost is a little bit prohibitive at this point for our county,” Campbell said. “It’s a pretty big chunk of money to try.”
She said she had wanted to present the information to the board and let them decide whether to look at it now, this fall or even next year.
“You can wait and see what direction you want to go, but I wanted to get the information out there,” Campbell said.
Board members agreed to table the decision.
Malueg said during the upcoming election they would document the number of problems they have and how it may have helped.
Elections Board member Bill Roth said they also could look into budgeting for the tablets next year.
“Our budget has been hit hard anyway this year,” Campbell said, mentioning hiring a new director and purchasing a new computer. “Maybe you can try to plan for it for next year.”