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Henry voting to showcase express poll scanners

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Voters will have an easier time voting this year, according to elections officials.

Henry County Elections and Registration Director Janet Shellnutt said new express poll scanners should cut down on the amount of time voters spend verifying voter eligibility at their polling precincts.

"The voting process is much faster," Shellnutt said. Instead of using the touch-screen express polls that residents have become accustom to in recent years to input their voter identities, she said, voters will be able to perform the function by simply scanning their driver's license.

The elections director said the action cuts minutes off the time voters had spent typing in their names, and navigating the express poll software to find their voter registration information.

From 2004 until 2010, voters had to type in their names and find their voter registration information, added Gerry Miller, information technology analyst for the elections and registration office.

Voter registration information is digitally imprinted on a reusable voter access card, which is temporarily assigned the information long enough for voters to use in the electronic voter machines, he said.

Henry County has been using the new express poll scanners since July, according to Miller. He noted that the county was among a few counties in the state to voluntarily pilot the use of the scanners, which are the latest technological advancement in the state's elections process.

Miller said the scanning technology utilizes the services of the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, in Kennesaw, Ga., which obtains state-wide voter registration data from the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

The touch-less technology improves upon last year's touch-screen technology, as well as the technology from about a decade ago, Miller said. Before Georgia's move into electronic voting in 2002, poll workers contended with large, paper-bound ledgers to verify voter identities, and whether any particular voter cast a ballot.

"This took the place of that 'phone book,'" Miller said.

Shellnutt said poll workers, and voters alike, have grown fond of the new technology in the past few months, since it was introduced in Henry County.

"That [ledger] was the only record you really had 14 years ago," she said. "Technology has made it easier for us and more accurate ... We don't even want to do it without them any more."

Shellnutt said express poll scanners should be available at each precinct throughout the 2010 election season, which includes early voting, advance voting, and election day voting.

Henry County plans to open its Stockbridge satellite precinct for Early Voting, starting the week of Oct. 18-22. The Stockbridge Community Center satellite precinct, located at 130 Berry St., in Stockbridge, and the Henry County Election and Registration Office, located at 345 Phillips Drive, in McDonough, will be open from 7 a.m., until 7 p.m.

Voters in neighboring Clayton County will also be able to cast their Early Voting ballots, on weekdays from 8 a.m., until 5 p.m., -- at the Clayton County Elections and Registration Office, located at 121 S. McDonough St., in Jonesboro.

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On the net:

Henry County Elections and Registration: www.co.henry.ga.us/registrars.

Clayton County Elections and Registration: www.claytoncountyga.gov/departments/elections.