By BOBBY WARREN Staff Writer Published: August 18, 2015 4:00AM
WOOSTER — While the sample size was small, the response was huge: Go with the KNOWiNK electronic poll books.
The Wayne County Board of Elections, based on the recommendations of the director, deputy director and a limited number of poll workers and voters, authorized the purchase of KNOWiNK’s version of the e-poll books.
Only a handful of precincts were open for the Aug. 4 special election, and poll workers and voters had the chance to try out two e-poll books during a pilot program, one from KNOWiNK and the other from Everybody Counts.
“We liked both companies, and we kind of hoped one would kind of stand out, and that’s what happened,” Director Peter James told board members Earl Kerr, Jean Mohr, Betsy Sheets and Sue Donohoe. “KNOWiNK did very well. It was pretty much unanimous. They all had the same sentiment: KNOWiNK was easier to use and better.”
There had been some hope the e-poll book from ES&S would rise to the top because the board already works with the company on its voter registration system and its touchscreen voting machines.
“ES&S would have been an elegant solution,” said Kerr, the board’s chairman.
However, the ES&S product was more expensive, and Deputy Director Julie Leathers said it comes with a “per-election charge” in order to convert the data.
“It’s really unnecessary,” James said of the data conversion charge.
While it might have been convenient to deal with one company for all three major computerized components of elections — voter registration, voting machines and e-poll books, Mohr said, “I have some qualms about all of it being in one company’s hands.”
“I’ve been very impressed with Everybody Counts, but they did not pass the test,” Kerr said. When he was at the voting locations, everyone liked KNOWiNK.
Eric Weltlich, voting location manager at Wayne Township precincts 1 and 3, worked with KNOWiNK’s version, which utilizes an Apple iPad. Lisa Black, a precinct worker, was using Everyone Counts’ model, which runs on a Samsung tablet powered by the Android operating system. They liked how KNOWiNK’s e-poll book allowed voters to swipe their driver’s licenses through a card reader, and it would call up the voting information. Voters could also punch in a few characters of their last names, and their information would be displayed on the e-poll book.
The e-poll books are very fast and can validate a voter in about half of the time.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted informed boards of elections recently they will be receiving state funding to offset investments counties will need to make for the new equipment. Wayne County is slated to receive $121,000. It will have to come up with a 15 percent match.
The board also certified the results of the special election and certified 145 candidates for the November election.
Reporter Bobby Warren can be reached at 330-287-1639 or email@example.com. He is @BobbyWarrenTDR on Twitter.