‘Badger Books’ on the way in Stoughton

Voters in the city's Aug. 9 primary election will become the latest in Dane County to use new electronic "Badger Books" in place of the old paper voter registries.

They’re not technically books. And of course, you don’t need to be a Badger to use one.

But the city’s new “Badger Books” are definitely going to help speed up the voting process around Stoughton, starting this summer.

Voters in the Aug. 9 primary election in the City of Stoughton will become the latest in Dane County to experience electronic poll books in place of the old paper voter registries. While the actual voting process won’t change, the new technology, called “Badger Books,” aims to allow Stoughton’s estimated 9,000 registered voters to move more quickly from the check-in at their polling place to cast their ballot, according to a city news release.

Every polling location will have the electronic poll books at check in and one for the chief election inspector. The electronic equipment will save election workers from sifting through pages of records by using a voter’s photo ID to verify their registration electronically.

Clerk Candee Christen said using the machines is “relatively straightforward,” as the high-tech poll books resemble self-checkout stands at the grocery stores. Each station consists of a touchscreen and scanner to more quickly and efficiently check in voters, process absentee ballots and perform same-day registration, and a poll worker will be stationed there to assist in the check-in process.

“Just as a voter would sign the paper poll book to get a number slip in order to get a ballot, the voter will present a photo ID and sign the electronic screen of the Badger Book, which in turn creates the voter number used to receive the ballot,” she explained.

All machines within a polling location will be communicating wirelessly internally through a router, Christen said. Badger Books were developed by the Wisconsin Elections Commissions, which states that the devices are not susceptible to online hacking or interference as they do not operate on the internet, at any time. Nor are Badger Books capable of reading or counting ballots.

“The actual process of voting will not change,” she said. “Ballots will still be completed on paper by hand and will then be inserted into the voter tabulation machine.”

Christen said deputy clerk Tammy Nimmo has been training city election workers over the last few weeks in preparation for the use of the machines in August. The clerk’s department will have a machine available for Stoughton residents to stop and practice on from 12:30-3 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 9-11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through July 25.

Christen also encourages residents to visit the state’s MyVote.com website to find up-to-date voting information as well, request an absentee ballot if preferred and update their voter registration.

For more information, visit ci.stoughton.wi.us/clerk.

Contact reporter Scott De Laruelle @sdelaruelle@orourkemediagroup.com

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