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Rockdale to use new polling method

Staff Photo: Erin Evans
 Rockdale County poll workers Ann Piaia, left, and Andrea Moseley, demonstrate the new bar code scanners that will be used at local polling precincts during Tuesday’s election as part of a 31-county pilot program by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Elections Division. The machines promise to eliminate the need to manually look up every voter in the poll book. 

Staff Photo: Erin Evans Rockdale County poll workers Ann Piaia, left, and Andrea Moseley, demonstrate the new bar code scanners that will be used at local polling precincts during Tuesday’s election as part of a 31-county pilot program by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Elections Division. The machines promise to eliminate the need to manually look up every voter in the poll book. 

CONYERS — Rockdale County will take part in a state pilot program during Tuesday's primary election to utilize bar code scanners for driver's licenses during the check-in process for voters.

The Secretary of State's Elections Division has distributed more than 700 driver's license bar code scanners to 31 counties. The bar code scanners is supposed to create a more efficient and accurate check-in process for voters who cast their ballot in person on Election Day.

If a voter's driver's license number is already recorded in the poll book, poll workers will scan the bar code on the back of the voter's Georgia driver's license or state identification card to immediately find the voter in the poll book and check them in to vote. This process will eliminate the need to manually look up every voter in the poll book.

"The expansion of the bar code scanner pilot project will allow a diverse group of rural and urban counties to speed the check-in process and decrease waiting times at the polls for even more Georgia voters," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Kemp said in a statement announcing the program. "Additionally, the bar code scanners improve the accuracy of creating voter access cards, and reduce the search time for a voter record from its current average of 10 to 15 seconds to almost instantaneous."

Rockdale County Supervisor of Elections Cynthia Welch said the bar code scanners will be available in all of the county's polling precincts. Poll workers were trained on use of the scanners last week. The bar code scanner pilot project was successfully utilized in Bartow County during a special election on May 11 for Georgia House District 12 and the June 8 9th Congressional District special election runoff in Hall and Catoosa counties.

Welch said the technology is promising.

"Almost everyone uses their driver's license as their form of photo ID when they come to vote, and anything to make that process easier on everyone while helping to keep the lines moving would be welcomed," Welch said.

The bar code scanners do not change the check-in process in order to vote in an election. Voters must still complete a voter's certificate at their polling location. As required by Georgia law, poll workers must also check each voter's photo identification to ensure that it matches the voter. Voters using photo identification other than a Georgia driver's license or state identification card will be processed as they have before by poll workers using the electronic poll books to type in the voter's name.

In the future, bar codes will be added to the free Voter Identification Cards issued by county registrars, enabling voters who do not have a driver's license to use a VIC for the bar code scanning check-in process, according to the statement.

The pilot program is the latest in several e-government initiatives the Secretary of State's office has implemented since electronic voting machines was used state-wide in 2004. Earlier this year, Kemp implemented the MVP voter education website and the Stop Voter Fraud website. MVP allows voters to view a sample ballot specific to that voter for upcoming elections, find their Election Day polling location and early voting locations in their county, check their registration status, track the status of their absentee ballot, and more.

According to the Stop Voter Fraud website, these safeguards gives Georgians the opportunity to help the Secretary of State's office take every measure possible to ensure the integrity, security, and fairness of Georgia's elections. Residents who witness questionable election-related activity can submit a Stop Voter Fraud form, or call the Secretary of State's Voter Fraud Hotline at 877-725-9797.