Board of elections considers using touch tablets

By Dean Wright -

GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Board of Elections Deputy Director Dale Whitt approached Gallia Commissioners Thursday at their weekly meeting with organization updates and to discuss plans to change over from Gallia’s current electronic voting box format to more touch-friendly technology.

“We’re moving towards an electronic-type poll book,” said Whitt. “It’s very similar to a (tablet). It’s been something we’ve had under consideration for awhile.”

Whitt said the state suggested in 2015 for Gallia to switch to the new poll books and it was willing to foot around $31,000 of the bill for the tablet-like devices. The deputy director said the board was in talks with Election Systems and Software to purchase around 30 poll book units for around $40,000.

Whitt says, if all goes according to plan, the poll books will be used in the coming election in the fall. Gallia Commissioners gave their blessing and felt it was a good idea to continue pursuing the route as Whitt expressed his opinion that it would become commonplace in elections to use such technology across the country.

Whitt said he and the previous Board of Elections Director Jeff Haley investigated the use of such poll books in 2015 but decided against their use with the then coming presidential election. Ideally, the board of elections would have liked to test such devices in a spring primary this year, but no such primary is happening due to lack of primary election candidates. Whitt said waiting also hopefully would allow for prices to come down on the technology versus its initial launch.

Whitt said the tablet poll books would make logging election history results much easier and a matter of swapping memory data as opposed to entering it in a more manual fashion which would allow the board to utilize its time in other matters. Whitt emphasized that each and every machine the board would use would need tested before any major election because it was important to maintain the integrity of an election

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright