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New technology hopes to save time, shorten lines on Election Day in Hobart

(WBAY)
Published: Jan. 28, 2020 at 3:35 PM CST
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Voters in the Village of Hobart can expect new technology at the polls in the February Primary Election.

"It's going to be a smaller election with only one contest, so we thought it would be a good time to give them their premiere," said Erica Berger, deputy clerk and treasurer for the Village of Hobart.

The technology hopes to streamline the voter experience.

"You're no longer going to see poll workers flipping through paper poll books," said Berger.

The Village will have eight Badger Books out on Election Day for voter check-in and day-of registration. The software developed by state officials replaces physical paper poll books and eliminates the need for voters to separate by last name.

"Whichever poll book is open you get to go to. It doesn't matter what name you are, if you're registered or not," said Berger.

The device prints out a piece of paper complete with the voter number and which ballot to fill out.

While Badger Books are still relatively new in Wisconsin, Wrightstown has had the technology available to voters for the last year.

Express Vote machines provide an alternative option to completing the paper ballot.

"The Express Vote is basically a fancy ballot marker. It doesn't tabulate any contest or anything like that," said Berger.

Instead of filling in tiny circles, voters select options on a touchscreen. The ADA compliant tool also offers headphones and a key pad that includes braille along with a zooming option.

When finished with filling out their ballot, voters get a summary of their selection before it prints to be inserted into the tabulating machine.

While the technology upgrade has village staff excited, what about security?

"A lot of our election inspectors, our poll workers, have that same question, and it's a very good question," said Berger.

She says the Express Vote does not store any of voting information after a ballot is filled out. As for the Badger Books, she adds there are extra security precautions to avoid compromising any personal information.

"They are not connected to the internet," said Berger. "There's no possible way that anybody can hack into them without having physical access to the main server which will be kept separate."

Hobart voters can start using the Express Vote machines to fill out their ballots during early voting ahead of the February Primary which starts in the village on Wednesday, January 29.