Hear ye, hear ye! The Nov. 7 election is just around the corner! Final preparations are being made by your Shelby County Board of Election members and staff for thousands of voters to visit their polling location on Election Day. Voting starts promptly at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, and ends at 7:30 p.m. sharp that same evening.
Voters will decide who will represent them as township trustees, as members of school boards and educational service centers, and as fiscal officers. City and village residents will cast their preference for council members while some will also vote for mayors. Fire levies, ambulance and emergency medical services funding, township funding, and school funding questions will show up on some voter’s ballots as well. Two statewide issues will appear on all Shelby County ballots. All in all a full day of races, levies, questions, and issues.
This year’s election will be the first Shelby County election to roll out the use of Electronic Poll Books. The “e”- Poll Books are designed to make the voter check in process smoother and quicker while ensuring that each voter receives the correct ballot based on their residence. To fully understand what will be different, it’s important to first understand the reason for the check in process. When a voter checks in, he or she is simply establishing their eligibility to vote by announcing their full name and providing the elections official with one of several forms of voter identification. The most commonly used identification is an unexpired driver’s license, however a few other forms of identification are allowed under the Ohio Revised Code.
In the past, once a voter’s identity and current registration had been initially established, they were required to sign the signature book under their name. Once the elections official verified that the signature matched the one on file with the voter’s registration, another elections official issued the correct paper ballot to the voter and off they went to cast their paper ballot in private.
So what’s new with the implementation of the e-Poll Books? The change is simple and only affects the check in process. When a voter arrives at their polling place and announces their full name, they will hand the elections official their driver’s license and it will be swiped into a reader just as they would swipe their credit card at a local vendor. Voters without a driver’s license will furnish their approved documentation and the elections official will simply key in their name. The voter’s name will appear on a digital signature pad and the voter will use either their finger or a stylus to sign electronically. Most all of us have signed for a credit card in the checkout line at a department store or grocery. This will be no different. Once the signature is accepted, an ‘authority to vote’ slip will be printed and handed to the voter. That authority to vote slip contains the identification of the correct ballot style assigned to the voter and must be handed to the next elections official who will release the correct paper ballot to the voter.
As with any new initiative at your Board of Elections, there are bound to be questions. The e-Poll Book process is no different. Here are some common questions along with Shelby County Board of Elections answers:
Q1. Will Shelby County now be voting electronically? A1. Absolutely not! E-Poll Books will be used to streamline the voter check in and eligibility process plus ensure each voter is issued the correct ‘paper’ ballot. Paper ballots will continue to be used in Shelby County well into the foreseeable future.
Q2. I heard on the national news that computer voting information can be ‘hacked’ or stolen over the internet. How secure are these e-Poll Books? A2. The e-Poll Books are not wired to, tethered to, or uploaded to or from the internet. No voter history appears on any e-Poll Book. The voter information digitally written to each e-Poll Book is the same which is already publicly available.
For more information on voting procedures and eligibility, including how to vote early using the absentee process, voters can visit the Shelby County Board of Elections in person at 230 East Court Street in Sidney or they can phone 937-498-7207. Internet users can find us at http://co.shelby.oh.us/board-of-elections/
See you at the polls!
The writer is chairperson of the Shelby County Board of Elections and serves with members Merrill Asher, Jon Baker, and Chuck Craynon.