An Illinois-based company will supply the electronic poll books Cayuga County will use to replace paper books at polling sites for early voting and on Election Day.
Katie Lacey, the county's Democratic elections commissioner, said in an interview with The Citizen that Cayuga County will purchase its e-poll books from Robis Elections, an election technology firm that is one of the four e-poll book vendors approved by the state.
The county plans to purchase 40 e-poll books to replace the paper books voters use to sign in at polling sites, according to Lacey. The total cost of the devices isn't known because the elections board is awaiting for the state to send a contract number that would allow it to submit a purchase order.
Cayuga County will receive $154,686 from the state to implement early voting, including $85,113 to purchase e-poll books and other equipment. Some estimates suggest one e-poll book could cost between $2,000 and $3,000, depending on its features.
The county elections board opted for Robis after viewing demonstrations by the approved vendors. Poll workers were able to use the equipment before Lacey and Cherl Heary, the Republican elections commissioner, made their decision.
"We have looked at five different companies and compared some features and compared some costs," Lacey said. "We're pretty well set on what we know we want. We're just waiting on the state to get the paperwork into us."
David Davoust, president of Robis Elections, said in an interview that the company offers its e-poll books on a laptop or a tablet — Lacey said the county will be buying tablets for its polling sites. The devices use the Windows operating system and are equipped with several features, including Robis' Election Decision Support that assists poll workers with on-screen instructions and poll site maps to help voters who arrive at the wrong location.
One benefit of Robis' e-poll books is the compatibility with on-demand ballot printers. The printers are used during early voting to produce the appropriate ballot for a voter based on the election district they live in. The voter signs in and the information is sent to the device, which prints the ballot.
Cayuga County will purchase four on-demand ballot printers, Lacey said. Two will be used at Clifford Park Clubhouse, the early voting site in Auburn. There will be one each for the Conquest Town Hall and Venice Town Hall locations.
Davoust noted that there is another benefit with e-poll books. It will reduce the amount of time required to credit a voter for casting a ballot. Usually this process happens after the election and can take weeks. A staffer scans a code next to the voter's signature and that information is sent to the state to confirm they voted.
With the e-poll books, a file is produced that credits the voters who submitted ballots.
"There's benefits to the voters, there's benefits to the poll worker in just making their job easier and then it should reduce costs for the staff after the election," Davoust said.
The e-poll books are necessary after New York approved early voting this year. Beginning with the general election later this year, there will be a nine-day early voting period. This year, early voting will begin Saturday, Oct. 26 and conclude Sunday, Nov. 3.
Cayuga County's early voting sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 and Nov. 2; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28 and Wednesday, Oct. 30; noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 and Thursday, Oct. 31; and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1.
Lacey hopes that the county will be able to purchase the e-poll books soon to finish preparations for the first early voting period.
"We're eager to get this show on the road," she said. "We want to have confidence that we're going to have the machines, we're going to have the e-poll books, we're going to have time to train everybody and be comfortable with the way things are going."