When voters in Jefferson County go to the polls Tuesday, they’ll be met not with signs telling them to line up according to their last names, but by poll workers with electronic poll books ready to sign them in.
Voter check-in for Jefferson County’s registered voters goes fully electronic for the first time, rather than voters having to wait while poll workers look up names on printed paper lists.
Barry Stephenson, Jefferson County Board of Registrars chairman, said the county ran a successful pilot program in 18 of its 172 voting precincts during the December 2017 special Senate election and will now roll out the new system countywide.
Stephenson said voters showed no resistance to or concern with the switch from paper to digital, and one of the biggest benefits of using poll books over the paper check-in was efficiency.
“We found using poll books sped up the process a great deal. Under the old paper process, it takes a minute to minute and a half to check in a voter. We saw that time dropping to 45 seconds or less,” Stephenson said.
Aside from the new check-in process, the primary voting process remains unchanged.
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters must still verify their identity and choose to vote either a Republican or Democratic ballot. They’ll be given the ballot to mark and will feed it into a tabulation machine, as they’ve done in previous elections. As with the former paper check in process, should anyone find they are not listed in the voter rolls and feel it is an error, they can cast a provisional ballot.
Though ballot security has been an issue this year, Stephenson isn’t particularly concerned about cyber security during the voting process.
“Our machines are not connected to a network or the Internet. I’m not a cyber-sleuth, but they’re stand-alone machines. They’re not tied to anything that can be hacked. We take the thumb drives out and load the data into the computer to tabulate — they’re not tied to a network,” Stephenson said.
The poll books will make compliance with the states recent crossover voting law easier to track. The law prohibits voters from voting in one party’s primary in June and then switching to vote in the other party’s runoff in July.
“We’ll take the (electronic) voter information from the primary, upload into our system, and then use that to prepare for the runoff in July. And it’s the best way to keep track of it,” Stephenson said.
Alabama voters don’t declare a party when they register to vote. Democrats adopted a party rule prohibiting crossover voting in 1983. In 2016, Republicans adopted a similar party rule. In May 2017, a state law banning crossover voting from the primary to the runoff went into effect.
However, during general elections, voters are free to vote for candidates from either party.
If you’re not sure where you should vote, you can check that here. Meanwhile, some Jefferson County voting locations have moved:
Precinct 1080 has moved from Fairfield Fire Station #1 to the George French Student Center, 5500 Myron Massey Blvd., Fairfield.
Precinct 1370 has moved from Lively Hope Baptist Church to McAlpine Recreation Center, 1115 Avenue F, Birmingham.
Precinct 2320 has moved from Ministry Center at Green Springs to Virginia College, 488 Palisades Blvd, Birmingham.
Precinct 3010 has moved from Hunter Street Baptist Church to Hoover Met Baseball Stadium Banquet Room, 100 Ben Chapman Drive Hoover.
Precinct 4080 has moved from North Park Baptist Church in Trussville to the Trussville Civic Center, 5381 Trussville Clay Road, Trussville.
Precinct 4160 has moved from Center Point Senior Center to Center Point Community Center, 533 Sunhill Road NW, Center Point.
Precinct 4170 has moved from Kimberly Town Hall to Kimberly United Methodist Church, 9178 Old Highway 31, Kimberly.
Precinct 4190 has moved from Zamora Temple, 3521 Ratliff Road to The Church at Grants Mill, 6001 Old Leeds Road, Birmingham.
Precinct 5040 has moved from Metropolitan Church of God to Rocky Ridge Elementary School, 2876 Old Rocky Ridge Road, Birmingham.
Precinct 5210 has moved from Homewood Exceptional Foundation to the Homewood Board of Education Building, 450 Dale Ave., Birmingham.