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New electronic poll books to make elections more efficient, reduce chance for errors
new deh county commission poll book demo web
Brent Wagoner with Henry Adkins and Sons demonstrates an electronic poll book to Barton County Election officials last fall. The Barton County Commission Monday morning approved the purchase of 16 of the devices to use in the larger voting precincts. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

 In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:

• Approved an upgrade in the lighting for the Register of Deeds Office. Electrical problems with light ballasts necessitate an upgrade. Register of Deeds Pam Wornkey presented a quote from Silverado Electric that included the removal of 14 1980s florescent fixtures that will be replaced with LED lighting for a total of $4,061.18.

The new lights, which have a lifespan of 60,000 hours, are brighter, Wonkey said. This means, the office may need fewer of the new fixtures than planned.

• Approved the sale of four pickups, two from the Solid Waste Department and two from the Road and Bridge Department, at the Schremmer consignment auction Sunday in Odin.

The Solid Waste Department purchased two trucks over the course of the past year. This left a 1997 F-250 and a 1999 F-550, said Solid Waste Director Phil Hathcock. 

In February, the Barton County Commission approved the replacement of two pickups utilized by Road and Bridge. This left a 1998 Chevy F-1500 two-wheel drive with 186,889 miles and a 1998 Chevy F-2500 Extended Cab with 150,197 miles. Although both were to be sold by sealed bid, Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips prefers that they be sold at the consignment sale, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said. 

Schremmer said phoned-in bids are accepted. The trucks will be available for view at the lot in Odin prior to the sale.

 In order to improve election efficiency, the Barton County Commission Monday morning approved the purchase of 16 electronic poll books at the recommendation of County Clerk Donna Zimmerman.

These books, which take the place of paper poll books, will decrease time spent at the polls, Zimmerman said. In addition, as the electronic books have the capability of reading identification provided by voters, their use will reduce the margin for error for voting at an incorrect polling location.

“Our office has been playing around with this option for a number of years,” said Zimmerman, who also serves as the county’s election officer. 

Use of the new devices will be limited to the larger precincts in Ellinwood, Great Bend and Hoisington for now, Zimmerman said. With fewer voters in the smaller precincts, Zimmerman said her office will stick with the paper rosters.

“We’re going to start small for now,” she said. Besides, there may be some consolidation of the smaller precincts and she doesn’t want to over-buy.

The system consists of iPads, mounts for the iPads, software and printers. The total cost for the 16 KnowiNK units is $25,000 and are being purchased from Henry M. Adkins and Sons, Clinton, Mo. 

Zimmerman said all voters have to do is place their drivers license in a cradle. The machine will scan the bar code and register the name.

If a voter doesn’t have a drivers license, their name can be entered into the iPad and called up that way, Zimmerman said.

These are not to be confused with electronic voting machines, she said, adding they have nothing to do with casting ballots. However, the county’s fleet of voting machines is showing its age and come next year, there may be discussions about starting to replace them.

This could possibly mean a transition back paper ballots. While more costly, Zimmerman said they are more secure and recounting is much easier.

The Barton County Election Office put its 89 iVotronics machines (which cost about $2,500 each for a total of about $300,000) into service in 2006. However, there were Help America Vote Act Endowment funds at that time which covered 90 percent of the county’s costs.