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Politics & Government

Goodbye Ledgers! Onondaga County Voters Will Use Electronic Poll Books to Check-in

Scott Willis

Onondaga County Elections Commissioners demonstrated for the first time Wednesday how voters will check-in at the polls using new electronic poll books.  The bulky paper ledgers will be replaced with iPads, which will show a voter’s name, date of birth, and address. 

If it’s correct, commissioner Dustin Czarny says voters will use the tablet to sign their name. 

"This is how our poll workers will verify, just like a paper poll book.  They will then see what the signature is, make sure it is that person...same processes in place that we've had before."

The reason for the “Poll Pads,” and their first real test, will be during nine days of early voting across the county starting October 26th

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Commissioner Dustin Czarny, right, holds up an instant ballot and a receipt. The ballots will print on site during early voting. A receipt is printed for the county's records. Commissioner Michele Sardo is at left.

"We can instantly download who voted in the early voting process, and make sure all of the 400 poll pads will be updated by Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. when the polls open.  Then we can make sure no one can vote early, and vote on election day."

In other words, preventing the same person from casting two votes.   Similar check-in systems have worked well in 38 other states with early voting.  Czarny says the electronic poll books will also easily show if a voter is not registered, or is at the wrong polling place. 

"We can do one of two things, on the receipt, it will print up their driving directions, from where they are, to the correct polling."

Or, he says, a voter can have the directions texted right to their phone.  Officials anticipate this will be helpful for voters, and greatly reduce the number of calls to the board of elections.  Czarny says what sold them on this system is that all six early voting sites and 149 election day sites will be interconnected. Elections officials can get real-time data on voter turnout and any problems that might arise, but not results.  Commissioner Michele Sardo the system is secure.

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
This is what a voter and poll worker will see on the screen when verifying a signature and other key information.

"Wi-fi hot spots will be in each polling place.  Our database is all encrypted."

The Board of Elections will have the new equipment on display in their lobby at 1000 Erie Boulevard West into the fall.  They’ll also have it set up at the state fair.  The nearly $1 million  cost of the electronic poll book system is covered mainly by state grants.  At the same time, officials say it’ll SAVE the county up to $30,000 per election in printing costs, and about 1,000 hours in reduced labor.

The Board is always looking for poll workers.  Classes begin August 17th.  Registration will begin soon.  More information on that, plus early voting, voter registration, and much more is at

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
The electronic poll book program also include real-time information on how many people are voting, if there's a wait, and if there are any problems.