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Minnehaha County Commission Pushes E-Poll Book Issue To January

December 10, 2013, 6:13 PM by Leland Steva

Minnehaha County Commission Pushes E-Poll Book Issue To January

The way you vote next time at the polls in Minnehaha County could soon change. The county commission is looking at E-Poll Books as a new option.

County Auditor Bob Litz wants the Minnehaha County Commission to authorize the purchase of E-Poll books to be used in time for the April 8 city election. But a couple sticking points could delay that request.

E-Poll Books are an electronic registration system that would allow voters to go to any precinct in the county to cast their vote. The poll worker would swipe the voter's drivers license and print off their appropriate ballot.  Litz says the books would speed up the voting process and save the county money in the long run.

"I think the cost-savings that the county is going to achieve will offset any new costs that will incur because I'll have less precincts, less people, less rent, less human capital that I'll have to pay out for," Litz said.

The cost for one of the laptop kits is $2,000. Minnehaha County needs around 150 units. Even though Litz says federal funds could help offset at least some of the cost, Commissioner Cindy Heiberger doesn't think E-Poll books would get enough use to offset the cost for the county.

"It's kind of a waste of funds that you're spending that much money on 150 laptops that are going to sit in a box," Heiberger said.

Using E-Poll books could reduce the number of precincts in Minnehaha County by 75 percent, but voters haven't always liked losing their precinct.

"We had calls from people that were really upset with the fact that they showed up at their normal place to vote, and it was closed," County Commissioner John Pekas said.

The issue will be brought up again at the commission's January meeting.  But Litz says it would have to be approved then or it will be too late to get the system set up in time for the April election.

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