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Chicago’s Board of Election Commissioners Introduces Electronic Poll Books

Chicagoans who vote in the March 18 Primary Election will be checked in electronically by election judges instead of through paper poll books at all 2,069 precincts.

Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal announced the introduction of electronic poll books at a press conference Wednesday.

“We are very excited about introducing a networked, digital ‘E Poll Book’ solution,” Neal said. “Our goals with the E Poll Books are to: (1) streamline voter check-in; (2) make election judges’ work more manageable; and (3) safeguard our elections by uploading the very latest in voter-registration data and Early and Absentee voting records – to every precinct, all before the polls open on Election Day at 6:00 am.”

Providing election judges with the most up-to-date information will allow them to see if a voter has already cast a ballot, with a clear message highlighted in red appearing in the electronic poll book.

In addition, electronic poll books will allow election judges to help guide voters who arrive in the wrong polling places by allowing judges to print out that voter’s correct polling place and address.

Last year, the Chicago Election Board issued a long-range Election Infrastructure Plan that identified electronic poll books among the agency’s top priorities. Last fall, the Chicago City Council approved funding for the electronic poll book project, and the Election Board chose Omaha-based Election Systems & Software as the electronic poll book vendor at a total cost of $2.3 million over five years, which will include warranties and upgrades.

“Back when voter registration rolls closed a month before Election Day, back before no-excuse Early Voting, before no-excuse Absentee Voting, that was when the paper poll book served its purpose,” Neal said. “But the election calendar today is far more complex. We think it’s going to get even more complicated soon. Today, we have Grace Period registration and Early Voting programs that run through the Saturday before Election Day. In the future, we expect that will run through the Monday before Election Day. The only way to manage those updates responsibly is through a networked E Poll book solution.”

For more information about electronic poll books, watch the following video: