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United Way of Lancaster County


Elections Board chairman: Pilot test of electronic poll books goes smoothly

County Commissioner and Board of Elections Chairman John Trescot speaks about the Primary Election at the County Government Center in Lancaster on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Lancaster County’s testing of electronic poll books in Tuesday’s Primary Election went well, county Commissioner and Board of Elections Chairman John Trescot said.

Electronic poll books, as the name implies, are digital versions of the paper lists of eligible voters that poll workers use to confirm voters’ registration and have them sign in. In March, at the recommendation of Elections Chief Clerk Christa Miller, the board approved trying out the devices at seven locations.

At a media briefing this afternoon, Trescot said he visited two of the sites, where poll workers told him the electronic poll books were convenient and user-friendly.

“It makes things go faster,” he said.

Among other things, they contain complete county voter registration information, so when voters turn up at the wrong precinct, they can be directed to the right one. They should also make post-election “reconciliation” — the process of cross-checking data to ensure election integrity — easier and more reliable.

Nineteen Pennsylvania counties currently use electronic poll books, according to the Department of State.

Skeptics have worried that electronic poll books could be a means of enabling election fraud. Pennsylvania law prohibits electronic poll books from having Internet capability, Miller told the Elections Board earlier this year, and while devices can connect locally to each other via Bluetooth connection is not discoverable by other devices.

After the election, the Election Board will evaluate the electronic poll books’ performance and determine next steps, Trescot said.