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Electronic poll books aim to cut Election Day confusion

Chicago Board Elections spokesman Jim Allen  demonstrates new Electronic Poll Books thwill eventually eliminate old paper book thhas been

Chicago Board of Elections spokesman, Jim Allen, demonstrates the new Electronic Poll Books that will eventually eliminate the old paper book that has been used in the past. Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: March 12, 2014 9:58PM

If you’ve ever shown up to vote on Election Day only to be told your name isn’t in the directory-like poll book, the Chicago Election Board now has a quick solution for that.

Ditto, if you show at the wrong polling station and you’re not sure where to go.

Beginning next Tuesday, polling judges will be equipped with electronic poll books — tablet-like device that will, among other things, allow election officials to instantly check to see if a voter is eligible to vote. Until now, voters had to wait while judges thumbed through 600-page paper books to check for a name.

And those paper books didn’t always have the latest information to show, for example, that a voter is ineligible because he or she cast an early or absentee ballot.

At a press conference Wednesday, Chicago Board of Election Commissioner Chairman Langdon Neal said the new system has been in the testing phase for about a year.

Any time new technology is introduced during an election there is a “high level of anxiety,” Neal said.

But if there are problems, judges can always fall back on the paper records, which will be available at all 2,069 precincts across the city.

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