Erie County voters who plan to cast their ballots during the early polling period, October 26 through November 3, will have the opportunity to do so at any of the participating stations. They'll be the first to use a new electronic system that the county plans to roll out for all elections next year.
Training began Friday for electronic poll books, tablets that will be used by on-site election inspectors at all early voting period locations.
The hope is to encourage an increase in voter turnout by making it more convenient. Jeremy Zellner, Erie County Democratic Election Commissioner and Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman, says the system will allow voters to pick any station, not necessarily the one closest to their home, to appear.
"We have 37 locations throughout the county. Voters can vote at any one of them during early voting," he said. "If you happen to work in the City of Buffalo and you want to go on your lunch hour to the Broadway Market or Delavan-Grider or the Belle Center, or down here at the Erie County Board of Elections, and you want to come and take your lunch hour to vote, you can do that."
Training began Friday inside the Board of Elections offices. On-site inspectors are currently training on voting machines but were anticipated to be training on the eBooks in about two weeks, according to one official with the BOE office.
The software and support services are being provided by Tenex Software Solutions of Tampa, Florida. Bradley Campbell of Tenex, in Buffalo to lead the training, provided a demonstration of how the system works (see below). He said transferring the county's voter registration information is not difficult nor time consuming, though they are careful with some of the files which help verify one's authenticity.
"What we do want to take our time on is the verification of data," Campbell said. "So we work directly with Erie County.
"They actually verify their data, making sure everything came over correctly and it was done ballot style, signatures, precinct locations, all of that kind of thing."
Zellner, who noted Republican Election Commissioner Ralph Mohr is also in support of the e-poll program says this year the county will use it during early voting but will roll it out to all elections beginning next year.