In the 2008 general election, nearly 15,000 ballots in Arizona were tossed out because people voted at the wrong polling place, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

To avoid those problems in the future, officials in Yavapai County, Ariz., launched a pilot project that tested six new electronic poll books at three locations for special elections Tuesday, May 18. Rolled out for the first time in the state, the high-tech devices centralize voter rolls in a single database so poll workers can save paper and easily direct prospective voters to the right precincts.

"Our ultimate goal is to facilitate our voters a lot faster with less resources," said Yavapai County Recorder Ana Wayman-Trujillo.

Using a portion of a federal Help America Vote Act grant through the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, the county purchased a total of 110 e-poll books with plans to put at least two in every polling place by the November elections, Wayman-Trujillo said. The e-poll books promote a paperless voter experience, she added, enabling poll workers to identify voters and track voting histories simply by scanning a driver's license or state identification card. A window for electronic signatures replaces a signature roster.

"We love our poll workers, but sometimes people don't spell their names right or miss their name in the poll book," she said. "The system uses a bar-code system that immediately tells you if you're registered, in what precinct and the style of ballot you need. It's really going to streamline the way things are done."

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Russell Nichols  |  Staff Writer