Jackson County

This new technology will help more votes count in Jackson County

Danny Glaskox, chairman of the Jackson County Election Commission, demonstrates one of the 125 electronic poll books the county first put to use in the Nov. 6 mid-term election.
Danny Glaskox, chairman of the Jackson County Election Commission, demonstrates one of the 125 electronic poll books the county first put to use in the Nov. 6 mid-term election. klnelson@sunherald.com

You have to vote where you live in the upcoming election or it won’t count.

New electronic poll books — about the size of an iPad — will help make more votes count in Jackson County this fall, because they will allow people to vote only where they live.

“There’s no more risk of voting in the wrong place,” Jackson County’s Election Commission Chairman Danny Glaskox said. “The electronic poll book will search the entire county to find where you live.”

The Election Commission there studied the value of the tablets for almost a decade, watching technology improve. And now, for the November election, it will put them to use for the first time, Glaskox said.

The new technology also will help people get in and out of polling places faster, especially in large precincts where hundreds vote, such as Ocean Springs Civil Center, Gautier, East Central Community Center, St. Martin Community Center and the fairgrounds in Pascagoula.

“These tablets eliminate having to get in line because your last name starts with a certain letter,” Glaskox said. “You can go to any table that’s open.”

The county will save money by not printing paper poll books. But better still, within hours after the polls close the electronic poll books will produce a voter history.

Jackson County is one of three in the state where the Election Commission actually conducts the election. In other counties, the Circuit Clerk plays a much larger role.

Under the old paper poll book system, it took as many as eight people at the courthouse more than a week to go through the books page by page to get a voter history.

There is also a function on the tablets to help manage the polls and assist poll workers in setting up for an election.

Glaskox researched the technology and decided to go with it when it evolved to the point where it was practical. These tablets not only find the voter, but also code the voting cards for the touch-screen voting machines.

“I got the best,” he said.

The commission had $80,000 in state money set aside strictly for elections in reserve for the purchase.

Glaskox said he believes now that Jackson County is trying out the tablets, the concept will catch on around the state.

He is the official trainer for the election commissions in the state and wrote the training curriculum for the Election Commissioners Association of Mississippi.

Known for using cost-saving measures, Glaskox in his first six years as chairman helped the commission return $600,000 to the Jackson County general fund out of the Election Commission budget.

“Jackson County is an elite county,” he said. “Other counties in the state were waiting to for us to buy these electronic poll books. They knew we’d build a training manual and they would want a copy.”

Why wouldn’t my vote count?

If you move from one part of the city or county to another, you must cast your votes at a new voting precinct.

If your name doesn’t show up on the poll books at the new location, you sign an affidavit swearing you live there and cast the vote that way.

But if you go back to your old neighborhood and try to vote there, you run the risk of your vote being thrown out.

“You vote where you live,” Glaskox said. “Even if you’re swearing, if you’re in the wrong place, your vote won’t count. Poll workers are trained to help with this.”