E-Poll Machine Certification May Be Two Year Process

During the Londonderry election on March 12, 2019, an electronic voter check-in was tested, and deemed very successful, but the ability to implement the new system may be a ways off.
The new check-in process was a pilot test project that the town decided to participate in for the past town election. The report that came out after Election Day was very positive, and showed that the new machines had a good impact on both the voters and the Town Clerk.
The paper-based voter checklist is still the official list of all registered voters in Londonderry, and in order to fully utilize the method used in the last town election, the New Hampshire Secretary of State must certify the company that provided the town with the necessary equipment used for the electronic check-in at the polls. This is required before the official paper voter checklist can be eliminated in favor of an electronic version.
The state is currently still in the evaluation phase of this pilot electronic check-in process. During the March 12 Londonderry town election, poll workers still had to check off each voter on the official paper checklist. The results were then compared to the results from the electronic machines, in order to verify that the results were the same for each method.

The process that will eventually certify the company that provides the machines used for electronic check-in during elections in the State of NH is lengthy and expensive. The initial vendor investigated by the New Hampshire Secretary of State regarding the certification process of the E-poll registration book informed the State that it would cost $250,000 for the certification. Since then, the price was lowered to $50,000, but that amount is still much higher than what other states have paid for a similar certification of the E-poll voter registration lists. Other States have indicated the cost for the certification is anywhere from free to $10,000. In a small state like New Hampshire, where the different communities will not need many voting machines from the vendor, the profit margin is too small for the vendor to make such an investment. Until the State can agree on a price for the certification of the E-poll voter registration lists, the process is on hold. Londonderry may have to go back to the official paper voter registration books with ballot clerks crossing off names in the books with a ruler.
Kevin Smith, Town Manager, informed the Town Council, at their meeting held on April 1, that the feedback regarding the use of the E-polling equipment was very positive. The overall recommendation was to pursue certification.
Now the company that supplied the town with this equipment must design it’s business plan on how to proceed through the certification process with the State of New Hampshire. Smith explained that a town like Londonderry would only need to buy about half a dozen E poll registration books and half a dozen of the printers that provide the paper copy for all the results. The combined cost of each E poll voter registration book and printer is roughly $1,500. The total cost to meet the needs of the town is not nearly enough to justify the cost of the certification, as long as it stays at $50,000.
The New Hampshire Secretary of State office recently decided on another company to certify E-Poll books. However, because of the cost issue and the fact that more pilots programs using this method must be completed, the entire certification process might take as long as two years. Unfortunately, even though the voting process was quick and smooth at the March 12th election, it is likely the old alphabetical voting system will be in place for the 2020 Presidential Elections. The town announced that this situation is unacceptable and they are investigating other solutions.

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