Electronic Pollbooks to Be Used in North Dakota Elections

Nearly 1,000 of the devices will be distributed throughout the state’s 53 counties in February. Officials say the tablets will speed up voter check-ins and enhance polling place security.

by Jack Dura, The Bismarck Tribune / January 21, 2020

(TNS) — Training sessions on new electronic pollbooks are planned throughout the next week and a half for North Dakota election officials.

The new devices — 990 of them — will be distributed to North Dakota's 53 counties for use at polling locations after being delivered to the state in February. Pollbooks are records of voters of a precinct.

The devices, which resemble an iPad, will speed up what has been a paper process for most counties in checking voters and add an element of security, according to North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

"One of the things when it comes to election integrity is that once you come in and show your ID, that automatically goes back into our central voter file and so if you attempted to vote, let's say, in Minot or drive up to Killdeer or some other place, they would know that you voted already," Jaeger said Monday.

North Dakota has no voter registration, but maintains a central voter file which is essentially a database of who has voted.

Six or seven counties, mostly larger populated ones, have previously used electronic pollbooks, Jaeger said. Now every county will have them.

Morton County Auditor Dawn Rhone last summer welcomed the news of the forthcoming electronic pollbooks as "a big time-saver in many ways."

Electronic pollbook training sessions for county officials are planned in Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot, Williston, Fargo, Grand Forks, Devils Lake and Jamestown this week through Jan. 31. The devices will be delivered to Jaeger's office in February for testing, then distributed to counties.

A statewide election conference in early March in Bismarck will offer additional training.

Jaeger said his office is working with North Dakota's Information Technology Department, the state's Division of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI for voting system cybersecurity.

The 2019 Legislature budgeted $11.2 million, including $3 million in federal funds, to replace the state's 15-year-old voting machines and to provide for the new electronic pollbooks.

The new voting equipment included 425 ballot scanners, 425 assistive devices for voters with physical difficulty in marking ballots and 53 central count machines for processing absentee and mail ballots.

Counties received the new voting equipment in August.

All of the new election equipment will be first used in the June 9 statewide primary election.

©2020 The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, N.D.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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