Electronic Pollbooks: Key Components of a Smooth Election Day
E-pollbooks are digital versions of the voter rolls that are loaded onto secure digital devices. As a result of bipartisan legislation supported by local clerks and the New Hampshire Municipal Association, state law authorizes jurisdictions to purchase and use e-pollbooks as long as they comply with security requirements. E-pollbooks have become key technological components of a smooth and secure Election Day experience, and more jurisdictions should purchase and use them.
Paper Lists and E-Pollbooks: What’s the Difference?
- Traditionally, New Hampshire keeps voter lists in paper form. To check in at the polls, a voter presents identification to a poll worker, who locates their name in the precinct’s poll register. The voter then signs next to their name and is issued a ballot. The check-in process can be cumbersome and susceptible to data entry errors. It is the most frequent driver of long lines on Election Day.
- E-pollbooks digitize the same process. E-pollbooks are tablets preloaded with the voter rolls. Voters sign in quickly and securely by scanning the barcode on their drivers’ license. Voters who lack barcoded IDs can provide other state-approved ID to a poll worker, who manually locates their name. Once the voter’s record is found, the voter uses a stylus or finger to sign the tablet, and they receive a ballot.
Benefits of E-Pollbooks
- E-Pollbooks provide visibility. They allow real-time updates of a voter’s check-in, and automatically flag if a voter received an absentee ballot or has already voted. They auto-track how many voters have voted, and can generate detailed paper trails at any point during or after Election Day.
- E-Pollbooks are secure. They do not require internet connections, and are subject to a rigorous certification process. As of 2020, 38 states (including New Hampshire) used e-pollbooks in at least one jurisdiction, and 16 states use them exclusively.
- E-pollbooks ease bottlenecks. They reduce check-in times and help poll workers quickly troubleshoot voters whose records aren’t found — by providing a fast and secure way to digitally register a new voter, direct a confused voter to the correct precinct, or provide a provisional ballot.