Faster, cheaper and more accurate. That’s how Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent describes the new electronic sign-in system that county voters will encounter today — many for the first time — during early voting this week and the Aug. 26 primary election. In fact, Dent says voting “will be fundamentally transformed” in Sarasota County. Supervisor of Elections voter services coordinator Tracy Smith calls the system “a game changer.” Those may sound like lofty descriptions for a bunch of tablet computers and some software, but Dent and her team insist the benefits are significant. Kathy Dent, Supervisor of Elections in Sarasota County, with one of the more than 300 mini iPads that will be used to sign people in to vote during the upcoming election in Sarasota County.
… The system costs $250,000 — $800 for each of the 312 tablets with the software installed — but Dent says her office will save money on personnel.
Sarasota County has a rocky history with electronic devices and the voting process. The county abandoned its electronic touch screen voting machines — purchased for $4.5 million in 2001 — and returned to paper ballots after the controversial 2006 congressional election between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings. More than 18,000 ballots did not record a vote in the race, a fact some voters blamed on the touch screens.