Polls open at 6 a.m. Tuesday, and voters will notice some new technology at their polling locations.
Pettis County will be the first county in the State of Missouri to launch new poll pads, said Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada. Local polling locations already use the pads for check-in, but now more features will be available to assist both voters and poll workers.
“If you’re at the wrong location, you can find out where to go. If you go to the Celebration Center, for instance, the poll worker can click on the voter’s name, and if you have a smartphone or you can receive texts, it will text you the location for where you need to go,” La Strada said. “… It will also show people who have checked in through the poll pad so I can see them come in live from my office.
“Also, poll workers will have the ability to do instant messaging through the poll pads, so if there’s an issue, they can’t get a hold of us through the phone, they can do it through text on the pads, say whatever issue they’re having, like if they run out of ballots or need supplies; they can very quickly use the poll pad and message us.”
The software, through KnowInk, will be available on iPads at each polling location. While the August special election is a small one, it will allow La Strada’s office to test the technology before reaching larger elections next year.
“It will be a huge tool moving into next year,” La Strada said. “There will be so many issues for the presidential year. People are just showing up at polling locations, they don’t realize where to vote and how to find that location. Most people have texting, so the poll worker can quickly type in their phone number and it texts them the directions. It’s just really nice.
“… It’s always something we wanted to eventually do, it just takes time and now it’s coming together. I can watch check-ins through the office, I don’t have to get in the car or call a worker — I can see how many check-ins we’ve had throughout the day. It’ll make the process easier and efficient.”
Turnout is expected to be low for Tuesday’s small election, with only two items on the ballot for City of Sedalia voters.
“We’ve had 162 absentee votes received at our office,” La Strada said. “Out of the roughly 13,000 as of (Friday) registered voters eligible, only 162 absentee ballots have been cast.
“I want to see a decent turnout, but the absentee for this type of election, it’s a little low. I predict turnout will be between 4 to 5 percent turnout. I hope we hit 6, but I don’t see it happening with the way absentee is going.”
Polls are open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. For more information about Tuesday’s election, contact La Strada at 660-826-5000 ext. 918 or 660-281-7767.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.