Yazoo County Circuit Clerk Robert Coleman believes that embracing new technology will lead to more accurate elections and save the county money in the long run.
Coleman and election commissioners Claude Collum, Virginia Mathews and Jerry Alexander appeared before the Board of Supervisors Monday to ask the board to consider including approximately $25,000 for electronic poll books in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Coleman said the electronic poll books would greatly reduce errors at the polls while saving money.
“This will eliminate the cost of printing, and it will reduce the number of poll workers needed,” Coleman said.
Coleman estimated that 50 percent of the counties in the state are already using electronic poll books, which resemble tablet computers. He said he expects over 90 percent of the counties to be using them by this time next year.
“I know that this is a large amount of money, but it will save money over time,” Coleman said.
District 4 Supervisor Jayne Dew said that her main concern is what would happen if the equipment fails. She said the electronic voting machines regularly have problems.
“We regularly have one of the voting machines fail at just about every precinct,” Dew said. “What happens if one of these machines fails?”
Collum said that each election commissioner would have a backup computer and would be prepared to travel to any precinct experiencing problems.
Coleman also said he would like the board to consider combining some of the county’s precincts.
“We have 10 precincts that could be combined,” Coleman said. “They’re within a few miles of each other.”
Coleman said that the county would realize savings because less poll workers would be needed and the building expense associated with the closed precincts would no longer exist.
Coleman said the board could approve the consolidation of precincts if the majority of the board agreed because the Justice Department is no longer required to approve any changes.
The board instructed Board Attorney Jay Barbour to review the matter to see if those changes could be made without federal review.
The request for the electronic poll books will be considered during the budgeting process.