An overwhelming number of voters is not expected to be a problem in Marion County during the Tuesday, April 3, general municipal election. However, County Clerk Valerie Dornberger recently purchased several Poll Pads that should help lessen long lines in the future.
"It's a good thing for the voters so they won't be standing in line," she said. "We usually don't have an issue with that until we have a primary election or the presidential election, and then we have lines. It should cut back on that."
The new devices should be helpful in other ways.
"It will also help the election judges from having to call our office as often if a voter appears at the wrong polling place," said Dornberger. "Because voters have to show a photo ID to vote, they will be able to take their driver's license and put it on a (Poll Pad's) little tray. This machine will scan the bar code on the back of their driver's license and pop their (voter) information right up. If you walk in to the wrong polling place you will be highlighted and it (Poll Pad) will tell the judges where you need to go vote."
A total of 35 of the Poll Pads were purchased last month.
"Every polling place will have at least two, but some of my larger polling places will have four," said Dornberger.
The county clerk stressed that foreign countries will not be able to access the county's new hardware.
"I'm sure I'll have folks worried about that," said Dornberger. "They're not internet-based so they won't be connected to the internet."
A training session on the Poll Pads was planned this week for poll workers.
"I'm not going to say there won't be a learning curve at first for everybody until we all get used to it, but I think after the first couple of elections everyone will get used to it and I think will like it," said Dornberger.
The county paid $32,550 for the hardware and necessary software. Helping pay for the devices was a grant for $5,643.22 secured through the secretary of state's office.
"It wasn't much, but it was something," said Dornberger of the grant.
According to Dornberger, Marion County is one of the last counties its size to acquire the Poll Pads.
"We thought we would jump on the bandwagon and do it simply because it makes things faster for the voters. It also helps the judges out and will cut down on all the phone calls," she said. "We're excited to do it and hope voters like it."
Reach reporter Danny Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org