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Barcode Technology On Election Day

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By Joe Foreman, Editor

Primary election voters residing in the city of Glenwood and Glenwood Township will have the opportunity to take part in a new electronic check-in process when they go to the polls June 5.

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     Mills County is one of 55 counties in Iowa to implement a bar code scanning process designed to improve the election check-in process. Precinct Atlas is the name of the computer program established in Cerro Gordo County in north central Iowa. The program is the first of its kind in the country and has received positive reviews.
    “This is the very best of programs and so far Iowa is the only state using it,” Mills County Auditor Carol Robertson said.
    When Glenwood voters go to the polls next month, they’ll have the option of checking in by simply swiping the barcode on the back of their driver’s license, government-issued identification card or voter’s registration card under a scanner. The scanner will immediately generate information about the person, including address, political party affiliation and the location of their voter precinct. The information is printed out on a label.
    Voters who don’t utilize the barcode scanning option, will complete a form and have their information entered into a laptop computer.
    Robertson stressed that the barcode scan is completely optional but believes voters will like the new technology once they become comfortable with it.
    “It will process information quickly and help remedy problems at the polling site,” she said. “If a person is at the wrong polling site, for example, the program will let them know where their precinct is voting at.”
    Robertson said county auditors in the state have adopted the Precinct Atlas program as an alternative to voter identification laws.
    Only voters in the Glenwood area will have the option of using the barcode check-in process during the primary, but by the time the general election rolls around in November, the technology will be available at all polling sites in Mills County.  
    In addition to speeding up voter check-in, Robertson said the program will allow employees at the auditor’s office to monitor activity at precincts across the county. Through a central database, the auditor’s office will be able to determine how many ballots have been cast in a particular precinct at any given time.
    “For example, if we see voter turnout is heavier than expected in a particular precinct, we can run more ballots out to that location.”
    The program also has the potential to allow political parties and individual candidates to access a secured database and see who has and hasn’t voted in a particular precinct.
    Robertson noted the barcode technology is not available to voters to who cast their ballot in the days prior to the election. She also stated that residents who register to vote on Election Day must be able to present a driver’s license, photo identification card or other form of verification to prove who they are, such as a utility bill or bank statement. They can also have another person attest to their identity in writing.