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Poll Workers Pleased with New Election Technology



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In Tuesday's Sioux Falls School Board election, voters can go to any of 10 polling centers because of new technology that could have a big impact on future elections in South Dakota. Electronic pollbooks get put to use for the first time in the state, and the secretary of state says it won't be the last time.

South Dakota's new secretary of state may live in Pierre, but he's still registered to vote in Sioux Falls, which means Jason Gant gets to try out the new electronic voting system for himself.

"We have a very large population and just a very simple ballot, so it's a perfect testing ground," said Gant.

The check in process with the new e-pollbooks is simple. Voters had their drivers license to a poll worker who will scan it, and with the click of a button all your information gets pulled up for them to check you in.

"This is definitely going to be the wave of the future. As we get more and more people understanding the system, I think you're going to start seeing it spread across the state," said Gant.
    
Poll workers report few glitches during today's election and say they like the added technology,

"It's very easy and simple and a lot quicker," said Pat Haberer, one of the poll workers at Harvey Dunn Elementary School.

"It's doing everything that we thought it would in the training," said Don Boetel, who is stationed at Lincoln High School.
    
Positive feedback that comes as a relief to Gant.

"That was one of our biggest scares in the process was whether or not the poll workers would be willing to embrace this, and so far so good," said Gant.
    
Besides voter convenience, e-pollbooks are supposed to provide security against voter fraud, a benefit Gant made sure to test. When he tried to vote at another poll center, the computer flagged his name, telling the poll workers not to give him a ballot.
    
Gant says he hopes the more secure and more efficient process will bring more people to the polls.

"By using technology, we're able to speed up that process, save money, get the voters in here, cast their ballot, and back on with their day," said Gant.

Around 3 percent of voters turned out during the 2009 Sioux Falls School Board election.

j_mann@kdlt.com; on Twitter: jennamannKDLT
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