Voters in Johnson County, get your index fingers ready. You’ll be signing your name on an iPad when you show up at the polls for the primary and general elections this year. The voting process will go further into the digital age this year with new hardware and software to replace the big poll books the election commission has used for decades. Poll books hold a list of voters for each precinct. One of the first tasks of voting involves telling a poll worker your name to be sure you’re in the right place, then signing under the ruler in the poll book to record that you’ve voted. That will change this year because the county elections commission is updating its equipment, moving more of it into an electronic system. The Johnson County Commission on Thursday approved a measure to budget $936,000 to replace of administrative software and buy iPad Air 2 tablets so they can be in place by July for advance voting in the August primary. The county already had about $836,000 in an account reserved for new equipment. The action adds $100,000 to that.
“This is going to be by all indications an epic election year,” said Ronnie Metsker, county elections commissioner.
The electronic poll books have several advantages over paper, he said. Besides eliminating printing costs, the tablets will be able to scan driver’s licenses or accept manual entry of other types of state-approved voter ID, he said. They interface with the statewide voter database and can even print out directions when a voter shows up in the wrong place, he added.
“It eliminates a lot of potential for human error and will speed up the process,” he said. “It will be our concern that we have a smooth process, expedite the line and be as efficient as possible and do the election process in the least expensive way,” he said.