County’s iPad poll books speed up check-in process


HANCOCK COUNTY — With low voter turnout and faster check-in machines than in past elections, hundreds of Hancock County voters swiftly cast their ballots in Tuesday’s primary.

Election inspectors at the county’s five vote centers said people rarely had to wait in line throughout Election Day. While that was partly due to tepid turnout for the municipal primary, the county’s new electronic poll books also sped up the process, officials said.

Hancock County officials say the iPad-based system will be the new norm for elections. This year’s municipal cycle, which typically draws fewer voters than most countywide elections, is also a way to test the new poll book system in anticipation of the 2020 presidential election.

The county recently purchased 35 KNOWiNK e-poll books from Indianapolis-based MicroVote for $87,364. The e-poll books scan the voter’s driver’s license, which verifies the person’s registration within seconds, and prints off a ticket. A poll worker then scans the ticket to print off a paper ballot.

Kay Hunt, election inspector at the Hancock County Public Library in Greenfield, said it was taking about seven seconds on Tuesday to print off the ballot after the ticket is scanned. It used to last between “one minute and 45 minutes” for voters to get their paper ballots, Hunt said with a laugh.

“It just zips the ballots right through,” Hunt said. “Everything is working like a fine Swiss watch.”

At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, 159 people had voted at the library, the county’s most popular vote center. Total turnout for the day was low, with a little more than 2,000 voters casting ballots in the three elections.

There were only minor glitches to equipment on Tuesday, said election deputy Robin Spille. At the Hancock County Courthouse Annex, one of the iPads stopped working around 10:30 a.m., about 3½ hours after polls opened, said the vote center’s election inspector, Mary Harris.

The issue was resolved within 30 minutes, Harris said. Spille swapped the troublesome iPad with a new machine.

Becky Hiday, a poll worker at the Fortville Community Center, said the ID scanner poll workers used worked much better than past election equipment. Poll workers previously scanned ID cards to pull up voters’ information using handheld wands, which sometimes didn’t read the cards and required workers to manually enter information. Workers didn’t have to manually enter information nearly as often with the new equipment, Hiday added.

Fortville resident Brock Wedgeworth, who cast his ballot on Tuesday, said checking in went well.

“It was quick, easy,” he said.

As long as voters have their ID cards ready, check-ins should run smoothly, he continued. Wedgeworth couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t enough of a line to test that prediction on, however: He was one of the only voters in the room.

The Fortville vote center reported 124 ballots by about 12:45 p.m. It drew 180 ballots during early voting in the weeks leading up to the election.

Sharon McClarnon, the election inspector for the vote center at McCordsville Town Hall, also found the new poll book equipment to be effective. She said early Tuesday afternoon that there had yet to be any technical issues and that the new equipment streamlined check-ins.

McCordsville’s vote center had about 65 ballots by about 1:45 p.m., McClarnon said.

Pat Murray, a McCordsville resident who voted on Tuesday, said the new equipment not only allowed for a quick check-in, but it made him feel like the local election process was secure as well.

“I don’t see how anyone in the country could have voter fraud if they have this stuff set up,” he said.

At Adaggio’s Banquet Center in Sugar Creek Township, it was slow going for most of the day — really slow. By 5 p.m., only 12 voters had cast ballots.

Mike Wherry, one of four election officials at Adaggio’s, said they expected a low turnout.

“We had a lot of voters stop in who don’t live in the area and found out there was no reason for them to come here and vote,” Wherry said.

As far as the new poll books, the crew at Adaggio’s might not have had a large crowd of voters to fully test the devices, but they were able to get accustomed to using the iPads, they said.

“I know we haven’t had the rush,” Wherry said, “but these two units we have are faster, and two of them can operate as well as four of the older units.”

Ben Middelkamp, Kristy Deer and Mitchell Kirk of the Daily Reporter staff contributed to this story.