A $100,000 investment to make Franklin County elections run more efficiently is paying off, County Clerk Debbie Door said.
The money was spent on buying 100 Apple iPads and a software package that speeds up voter check-in.
The computers are replacing the former paper poll books that could be time consuming to flip though when searching for a voter’s name.
“It was kind of a tedious time for the (election) judges,” Door said.
Now the voter’s ID is scanned on the iPad, allowing for immediate check-in and shorter lines at polling places.
“Those lines that some counties have, we don’t have,” Door said.
She added, “So there’s no more looking through a book, trying to find your name in a book that’s got maybe 2,000 other people’s names in it.”
Door is confident that the integrity of elections is not jeopardized by the electronic devices.
“If it crashes, there are multiple ways of backing it up,” Door said. “The data I’m not worried about at all.”
Franklin County was one of the first counties in Missouri to use the iPad for elections. Missouri is the first state to use the iPad for voter check-in, said Kyle Dubbert.
Dubbert is a co-owner of KNOW.iNK, the St. Louis company that developed the software, which is called Poll Pad.
Other counties using it in the November election were Barry, Jasper, Lawrence, Wright, Polk, Pulaski, Cape Girardeau, Scott, Dent and Buchanan.
Dubbert said his company is apparently the only one with the iPad voter check-in software. Now, he said, other companies may develop a similar product.
“We have a patent pending,” Dubbert said.
Electronic poll books have been used for five or six years, he said. But the iPad is better than a laptop because it is wireless, less cumbersome and easier to use, he said.
Even election judges in their 70s and 80s used the iPads with ease, Door said.
Door agrees that it was bold to use the iPads county wide for the first time in the November presidential election. The paper poll books were present also in case of problems, she said.
The 100 iPads were divided between the county’s 52 voting precincts, and in total they checked in 47,162 voters.
In other elections, when the president is not on the ballot, voter turnout is lower, so fewer iPads will be used.
The Villa Ridge voting precinct had the most iPads with four, and the Washington precincts had about three each.
Leading up to the November election, Door’s office tested some of the iPads in the Republican and Democrat caucuses and other elections.
One of the bigger timesavings from the iPads comes after the election. Previously, four county employees would spend five to six weeks scanning individual voter names. With the iPad, the voter history information is available immediately, saving staff time.
It also saves paper since thick poll books don’t have to be printed.
“It’s a major savings,” she said.
The iPads do not result in faster results since polls still stay open to the same time.
The software was just developed this year and used first in Cape Girardeau’s presidential preference primary.
“There’s no real problems with it,” Dubbert said. “The users find it incredibly easy, but there is an intimidation factor first thing in the morning for some people. It’s been pretty minimal.”
Dubbert said he and his business partner, Scott Leiendecker, are “election people.”
Dubbert was a Republican policy supervisor for the city of St. Louis, and Leiendecker was the director of the city of St. Louis’ election board.
“We know the ins and outs of how to run an election,” Dubbert said. “We’re policy people; we actually care about elections.”
He anticipates that other states will start using the iPad for checking in voters.
As for Missouri being first, Dubbert said he praises “aggressive and forward- thinking (county) clerks.”