Electronic voter rosters merit further study from Legislature, task force says

A task force chaired by Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is asking the Legislature to authorize further study of electronic voter registers, which, the group says, would be an improvement over the paper books containing voter information now used on election day.

Ritchie said:

“Electronic rosters have the potential to improve the voter experience, while saving taxpayer dollars. It’s important to evaluate this tool to accurately judge the costs and benefits.”

A summary of the task force recommendations says:

  • The Legislature should authorize a study to be conducted during the 2014 General Election to evaluate electronic rosters in a more high-volume election.
  • The Legislature should appropriate funds to offset the costs of the 2014 electronic roster study for local election officials.
  • Minimum functionality requirements should be set for electronic rosters.
  • Minimum data security requirements should be set for electronic rosters.
  • No photos should be used in electronic rosters at this time.
  • The Legislature should appropriate funds to provide for a formal evaluation of the 2014 electronic roster study.

There are many types of technology that can be used for the electronic rosters, including some that include voters’ pictures from the state licensing database, the group said.

The task force said some of the new technology’s benefits include:

  • Improved voter line and traffic management
  • Preventing voters from seeing other voters’ information
  • Providing information for election judge staffing by tracking the number of voters throughout day
  • Ensuring more accurate voter records.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/03/2014 - 12:29 pm.

    Electronic Rosters

    This is a much more sensible proposal than the voter ID amendment. As an IT guy and an election judge I have a few concerns about the implementation.

    -Would the rosters be updated in real time or at City Hall? If they’re real time, what sort of connectivity and bandwidth will they need?
    -What security will they have on them? Can they be erased remotely if they’re stolen?
    -Will these units be used just for elections or will they be used by the cities for other functions?
    -Can they also be used to register voters?

    If the rosters are used for other purposes at City Hall I would give the project a big thumbs down. With other people using the units throughout the year there are too many opportunities for the users to introduce viruses into the software and OS. Even though government budgets are tight these days and employees like to squeeze as much value as possible out of purchases, I would be much more inclined to keep the rosters as a closed gated garden and use them only at election time.

    The electronic rosters will cost some money up front to buy, but they’ll save a bundle over the old method of printing them out. Some of my elderly judges may be a little intimidated with the technology, but with the proliferation of iPads, iPhones, and other touch screen devices in today’s society I’m sure they’ll adapt pretty readily.

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