JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – Washington County election commissioners said upcoming elections will utilize a new device that should make lines quicker and elections more secure.
On Thursday, the Washington County Commission voted unanimously to purchase $76,000 worth of Poll Pads for its polling locations.
Poll Pads are iPad tablets equipped with a scanner that makes it easier for poll workers to process state photo IDs.
“It’s just a way to help eliminate human error, and to make sure that you have the correct ballot,” said Washington County Election Commission Chairman Gary McAllister. “It has nothing about the candidates you’re voting for or anything like that.”
McAllister said the Poll Pad helps avoid mistakes at the polls if a voter shares a name with someone else in the county by verifying the address from a driver’s license or valid state ID.
“If it’s the correct address, it’ll ask you to sign the pad,” McAllister said. “And what they’ll do is, once they get that, they’ll print out your ballot.”
The Poll Pads are entirely separate from the voting booth, so they change nothing about how Washington County voters will fill out their ballots.
McAllister said the Poll Pads also keep a count of people coming through the polling site. That makes the process of comparing voter count to ballot count take minutes, instead of weeks. It also allows election workers to easily find mistakes.
The Poll Pads can also make the time spent in line and checking in at the polls much quicker.
“It’ll work faster, eliminate some of the paper that you have,” McAllister said. “A lot of us remember those old books that you’d have to go through. The pads make sure we have the right person.”
McAllister estimated the Poll Pads could save the county up to $7,000 per election by eliminating poll worker and material costs.
Amid concerns of election security, McAllister said the Poll Pads are a secure system.
“Voters of Washington County are assured your votes are not connected to the internet in any way,” McAllister said. “All this is, we’re just getting your information and making sure you have the correct ballot.”
McAllister said the Poll Pads may not be ready for use in the May primaries, but he expects them to be in use for the August Washington County primary elections.