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Electronic Poll Book FAQs Update

Posted in
Information Only
October 20, 2017
Wisconsin County Clerks
Wisconsin Municipal Clerks
City of Milwaukee Election Commission
Milwaukee County Election Commission
Tony Bridges, WisVote Elections Specialist
Sara Linski, WisVote Elections Specialist
Meagan McCord Wolfe, Assistant Administrator
E-Poll Book FAQ October 2017.pdf61.61 KB

The Wisconsin Elections Commission staff is in the process of designing the Wisconsin e-poll book.  The design process has a focus on usability driven by end user feedback. Staff is working with clerks and poll workers to gather feedback to create a more usable e-poll book. Below are some updated frequently asked questions that you may find helpful when considering electronic poll books.
Q:  What is an electronic poll book?
A:  The electronic poll book system is an electronic version of the paper poll books that are used today.  An electronic poll book is commonly referred to as an e-poll book. The e-poll book allows voters to check in or register to vote at the polling place on Election Day using a laptop or tablet instead of a paper poll book or voter registration form.  

Q:  Are municipalities required to use an e-poll book?
A:  Municipalities are not required to use e-poll books in their voting locations. The Wisconsin e-poll book will be a Wisconsin-focused option that municipalities may use to increase the efficiency of voter check-in and post-election WisVote data entry processes.

Q:  Who is developing the software to run an e-poll book?
A:  The Wisconsin Elections Commission staff is currently developing an e-poll book system at the direction of the Commission.

Q:  What will the Wisconsin e-poll book do?
A:  The Phase 1 scope of the e-poll book project includes checking in a voter, from finding the voter in the poll book to assigning a voter number. Processing absentee ballot envelopes and Election Day registrations are also high-priority processes.  

Q:   Who is responsible for the cost of the hardware device (laptop, tablet) for the e-poll book?
A:  While the software will be available to clerks at no cost, local jurisdictions would need to purchase the hardware needed to run the system, such as a laptop or tablet, and any peripheral devices such as signature pads, scanners or printers needed to support the system.

Q:  How many devices are recommended per polling location?
A:  In small municipalities, one poll book may be sufficient. Neighboring states recommend two e-poll books for polling places with more than 1,000 registered voters. Polling locations with a high number of Election Day Registrations may also consider additional devices to be dedicated to voter registration.  

Q:  How much does a hardware device cost?
A:  The specific hardware configuration and costs are not known at this time. Staff is working with the state contract to determine package options that would include the main device (laptop or tablet), peripherals like license scanners and e-signature pads, as well as some managed IT support services. The packages under review are being chosen according to their security and durability specifications. Packages appear to be in the range of $900 to $1,500 per unit.  

Q:  Does an e-poll book require an internet connection?
A:  The e-poll book will never require an internet connection. If the e-poll book is ever updated in the future to have online features, they will be optional and will only be implemented after we have evaluated whether they can be made secure.

Q:   Can someone hack into my e-poll book?
A:  The e-poll book will not be connected to the internet, and all antennas will be disabled. If it is ever updated to have online features, they will only be implemented after appropriate security measures have been taken. Combined with proper physical security and software management, the e-poll book will be very safe from hacking.

Q: What if someone steals my e-poll book?
A: All the data on the e-poll book will be encrypted in such a way that it can only be read using the credentials of the election inspector to which it is assigned, or the clerk. This will be done using military-standard encryption.

Q:  When will the e-poll book be ready for an election?
A:  At this time the Commission intends to pilot the new e-poll book system in three to six jurisdictions in the 2018 Spring Election. The e-poll book will be available to all clerks in time for the 2018 August Partisan Primary.

Q:  Who do I contact if I am interested in participating in the e-poll book development process?
A:  If you are interested in using the e-poll book system and would like to provide feedback to Commission Staff during the design phase, please contact the Elections Help Desk at or (608) 261-2028.