State and local officials in South Dakota praised new voting technology and methods used for the first time in Tuesday’s school board election in Sioux Falls.
The election was the first in the state to use electronic poll books and voting centers. The electronic poll books replace the large paper volumes of voters’ names and automate the voter check-in process, while the voting centers reduce the number of polling sites that need to be staffed while giving voters more options on where to cast ballots.
“In one word, I would characterize it as ‘excellent,'” Secretary of State Jason Gant told the Argus Leader. ” It was just what we expected it to be.”
Gant, who was in Sioux Falls to get a firsthand look at Tuesday’s election, said he plans to ask the 2012 South Dakota Legislature to pass a law allowing the new technology to be used in other elections across the state. County auditors and city clerks from other South Dakota communities were in Sioux Falls to see how the new technology worked, he said.
“Absolutely, this will take off in other places,” Gant said.
Instead of sending voters to 59 precincts in their respective neighborhoods, the Sioux Falls school district used 10 voting centers. Residents could cast ballots at any of the centers, no matter where they live in the city.
The electronic poll books use a computer program to allow election officials to scan a driver’s license to speed up verification of a voter’s eligibility.
Bev Chase, election manager for the school district said the new technology will cut the cost of elections. She said she previously hired 262 poll workers for the 59 precincts, at a cost of slightly more than $100 for each worker. This year she hired 74, meaning savings of nearly $20,000.
Chase said she also did not have to print the paper volumes of voters’ name and some other documents.