Electronic Poll Books – Cuyahoga County
Electronic pollbooks were deployed in Cuyahoga County for the first time during the May 2, 2017 Primary Election. One hundred ninety electronic pollbooks were used to successfully check in over 31,000 voters on Election Day. Both voters and poll workers shared overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding their use. Voters were excited to use the new technology and remarked how much quicker and easier the check-in process is. Poll workers stated how easy to use the electronic pollbooks are and how big of an improvement they are over the old paper pollbook check-in process. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is excited to continue using electronic pollbooks in future elections.
What are electronic pollbooks?
Electronic pollbooks are essentially handheld tablets (in the case of Cuyahoga County, an iPad Mini 2) that are used to check in voters at voting locations on Election Day and replace the paper pollbooks previously used. Each voting location has at least two electronic pollbooks, and more units are deployed at voting locations with three or more precincts.
How do electronic pollbooks work?
The record of every voter in the county is loaded onto each electronic pollbook. When a voter arrives at the voting location, a poll worker checks the voter in either by scanning the voter’s driver’s license/state ID or by performing a manual name search on the tablet. If the voter is at the wrong voting location, the poll worker may print out directions to the voter’s correct voting location or send them directly to the voter via email or text message.
Each pollbook is synced to the other units deployed at that polling location, so when a voter checks in on one unit, all the other units at that location are updated as well. These pollbooks also transmit important administrative data (such as supply of ballots and other items, poll worker payroll, voter counts, etc.) in real time back to election headquarters, as well as allow BOE staff to send messages to poll workers (and vice versa). However, per Ohio law, no voter-specific data is transmitted.
What are the benefits to voters?
Electronic pollbooks significantly reduce the check-in time (and, consequently, wait times) for voters. As mentioned above, voters that have an Ohio driver’s license or state ID card (which typically constitute 90+% of voters) can have their ID scanned by the electronic pollbook, so the voter’s record is found immediately. Electronic pollbooks also reduce check-in times by allowing voting locations (especially locations with multiple precincts) to be set up in a more intuitive manner that allow voters to check in at any of the electronic pollbooks in use at the location. Previously, the paper pollbooks were printed by precinct, so a voter was required to check in at his/her specific pollbook regardless if another precinct had no lines at their check-in table.
Further, by having the information for every registered voter in the County on each device, poll workers are able to quickly and confidently identify voters who are at the wrong voting location and direct them to their correct location. These voters can even have the directions to their correct location printed for them (or texted/emailed to their phone). These features significantly reduce the number of voters who vote at the wrong location and whose provisional ballots are subsequently rejected.
What are the benefits to election administrators?
Electronic pollbooks provide numerous benefits to the Board of Elections. On Election Day, having real time information on supply levels (especially the inventory of pre-printed ballots) and equipment issues, as well as the ability to receive messages from poll workers and send messages to specific (or even all) units, allows the administration to respond quicker to any potential situations, which significantly reduces the chances that voting is delayed at any voting location due to a logistical or technical issue.
Additionally, electronic pollbooks significantly reduce the time and cost of post-election processes. For example, the Board of Elections is able to update voter history from the units almost immediately after the election, which eliminates a process that used to require 20+ staff several weeks to manually sort through each poll book to determine which voters actually voted and update their records accordingly.
How did the Board choose this vendor?
The Cuyahoga County Board of Election conducted a 17-month vendor evaluation and selection process that included product demonstrations, three pilot projects, a security review conducted by DoIT, a financial review conducted by the County Fiscal Office, a mock election, site visits, and a review of how the finalist vendors performed with their various customers in the November 8, 2016 Presidential Election.
From the information gathered through this process, it was determined that Tenex Software Solutions was the best choice for the voters of Cuyahoga County for a number of reasons, including:
- Experience with and adaptability to large, paper ballot elections jurisdictions like Cuyahoga;
- A superior management system and Election Day “dashboard”;
- A superior method for updating “supplemental absentee” voters on Election Day;
- Quality training and customer service;
- Ease of election setup and data import for BOE staff, as well as ease of physical setup for poll workers.
What security features does this vendor have in place?
The product offered by Tenex Software Solutions has been certified by the State of Ohio and was tested by National Technical Systems (NTS)—an accredited testing lab in Huntsville, Alabama—in accordance with Section 3506.05 of the Ohio Revised Code and the certification standards adopted by the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners. Additionally, as part of the Board’s vendor selection process, the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) conduct a review of the security features that Tenex has put in place. This review—which was led by Jeremy Mio, Security and Research Manager for DoIT—required the vendor to take an independent penetration test from NTS to verify the following:
Critical elements of the electronic pollbook system are protected from intrusion or eavesdropping;
- The electronic pollbook protects against intentional manipulation, fraud and malicious mischief;
- The electronic pollbook provides the ability to identify fraudulent or erroneous changes to the system;
- The integrity of the voting process is maintained.
The electronic pollbooks are in no way connected, physically or electronically, to the vote recording equipment.