Newly proposed state legislation would implement a safeguard against the voter check-in problems that afflicted Pennington and other counties during last June’s primary election. The legislation is House Bill 1027, which was filed Jan. 6 by the House Committee on Local Government at the request of the state Board of Elections. If passed into law, the bill would require county auditors to provide paper voter-registration lists and bound paper poll books as backups at polling places where electronic poll books are used. The legislation aims to avoid a repeat of the problems that the Secretary of State’s Office said were encountered during the June 5 primary election in Pennington and seven other counties: Brookings, Brown, Hughes, Hyde, Potter, Sully and Yankton.
Those counties were all using e-poll books supplied by a private vendor, rather than paper poll books, to check voters in. Poll books contain information for election workers, such as whether a voter is registered, what party the voter belongs to, and the voter’s assigned precinct.
On the morning of the primary election, when the e-poll books were turned on in the eight counties, the load was too high and the vendor’s central server crashed.