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Onondaga County switching to electronic poll books for Election Day

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Ellen Abbott
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WRVO News (file photo)

Early voting won’t be the only changes come election time this year. Onondaga County will be going high tech when it comes to poll books.

Gone will be the days of an election worker flipping through one of those big poll books voters have had to sign before casting a ballot in Onondaga County. Michele Sardo, Republican elections commissioner, said electronic poll books will replace them this year on Election Day.

"So when you go to a polling place you won’t be signing on paper,” Sardo said. “It’s going to be an iPad type of thing.”

Sardo and Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny have been spending the last several weeks deciding which electronic poll book vendor to go with. Czarny said whomever they choose, the move to these e-poll books is an upgrade.

"We will save on paper,” Czarny said. “We won’t be printing up on poll books. The voter experience will be easier, less affidavit ballots to process, so less man-hours. We will also have less man-hours on the post-election end, as voter history will be downloaded in a matter of seconds, as opposed to three to 20 days of data entry."

Czarny said it will also make it easier for people who show up at the wrong polling place.

"We will be able to go in there and see where they're supposed to vote, print them up directions, or send a direction via text to their phone," Czarny said. "They may have to drive down the block to get to the new polling place, but then their vote will count, and they will be able to vote on the machine." 

The county has some grant money to pay for the switchover, which could cost up to $1 million. State lawmakers approved the move to electronic poll books during a flurry of electoral reforms earlier this year. More than 34 states and the District of Columbia currently use electronic poll books.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.