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County upgrading to electronic voting system

Douglas County commissioners approved the purchase a new election device, the Poll Pad, that could reduce wait time in lines at the polls, as well as save taxpayer dollars and reduce the number of election judges. (Contributed)

When Douglas County voters head to the polls this fall, they shouldn't have to wait as long in line to check-in and register. Pen and paper is being replaced by a streamlined electronic process using the all-new Poll Pad.

At Tuesday's Douglas County Board meeting, commissioners approved the purchase of 58 Poll Pads, along with related software, from KnowInk. In addition, the commissioners approved the purchase of 31 electronic tabulators and related software from ES&S.

Douglas County Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow, in her request to the county, said the total cost of the Poll Pads and software was about $74,000 and that a state grant would pay for about $29,000 of that amount. Funding earmarked in the Capital Projects budget would pay for the remaining cost, $45,000.

In addition, Rosenow said the total cost of the electronic tabulators and software was almost $154,000 and that the state Voter Equipment Grant would cover nearly $40,000 of that. Money earmarked in the Capital Projects budget — about $114,000 — will pay for the amount not covered by the grant.

Last fall, Rosenow and Timothy Vlach, KnowInk sales manager, presented information to the Douglas County commissioners on the new voting tools. The grant application to the state was approved last November and now that the county was notified it would be receiving the grant money, the equipment and related software can be purchased.

Rosenow said the Poll Pad is a well-thought out product that can save taxpayer dollars and possibly reduce the number of election judges.

The Poll Pad was designed by Scott Leiendecker, a former election director for the city of St. Louis. KnowInk has been in business for nearly seven years, with units operating in Minnesota for the past four years. The Poll Pad provides service to more than 450 election authorities in 19 states and Washington, D.C.

Rosenow has talked with election authorities in a couple of counties in Minnesota that use this device, including Hennepin County, and those she spoke with love the product and said they would never go back to using the paper check-in method.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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