By Peter Bodley

Contributing Writer

Anoka County has been awarded a state grant to purchase new voting equipment.

The County Board accepted a $237,825.81 grant from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office Feb. 6, with which the county will purchase electronic rosters.

Electronic rosters, which are also known as electronic poll books or e-pollbooks, are a digitized version of the paper polling roster book.

The county is required to match the grant with a minimum of $79,275.27 in local dollars. That money was included in the 2018 capital improvements program budget approved by the board in December 2017, according to Jonell Sawyer, division manager for property records and taxation, which includes the elections department.

The electronic rosters are iPads, along with printers and readers, which will enable election judges in all county precincts to check in preregistered voters and process same-day voter registrations electronically, instead of using the manual system now in place, Sawyer said.

“This will speed up the process for election judges and make it more efficient,” she said. “It will also speed up the process for voters on election day.”

The county plans to purchase the electronic rosters via the state contract at the end of March rather than go through the time-consuming process of requesting proposals, according to Sawyer.

Through the state contract, the vendors have already met state requirements, Sawyer said.

The electronic rosters will be ready for use at both the 2018 primary election in August and the general election in November, she said.

To Sawyer’s knowledge, Hennepin County is the only county in the state that currently has electronic rosters.

Anoka County election officials had the opportunity to use those electronic rosters when they handled the November 2017 Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 election, which included precincts in Hennepin County, according to Sawyer.

“It worked well,” Sawyer said.

The Minnesota Legislature appropriated $7 million for a voting equipment grant account, and Anoka County sent in its funding application in November 2017.

According to a Secretary of State’s office document, the Legislature in 2014 authorized counties, cities and municipalities to use electronic rosters for any election.

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