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Probate Judge: High voter turnout expected for Nov. 3 general election

As the Nov. 3  general election nears, Pike County Probate Judge Michael Bunn wants to make sure voters under the procedures and are comfortable casting their ballots.

“We’re anticipating a higher voter turnout than the 2016 general election,” Bunn said on Tuesday. “Based on other counties and our absentee ballot turnout so far, it’s going to be a high turnout.”

Combined with concerns over COVID-19 safety and the introduction of a new poll book system, Bunn is working to educate voters about what to expect at the precincts.

“We have more than 200 poll workers hired and we have several student volunteers who will be working as well,” he said.

The county is debuting an electronic poll book system, which will be deployed in tandem with the traditional paper poll books for this election. “We will be using the ES&S Express Poll,” Bunn said, adding that the system was purchased with the aid of CARES Act funding. “This is not a voting machine. Instead, it is a tablet device that will eventually replace the paper lists voters use to sign in at the polls.”

The tablets will be deployed at most of the precincts for this election. Voters will present their IDs to poll workers, sign the paper poll books and then scan their ID into the new tablets. Those tablets can instantly confirm the voter’s registration and, if necessary, redirect the voter to the proper polling place.

“They also will tell us instantly if the voter has requested and not returned an absentee ballot or if a voter has requested and returned an absentee ballot,” Bunn said, adding that the electronic system will not allow an individual to vote at a precinct if he or she has already submitted an absentee ballot. Anyone who has requested but not returned an absentee ballot can cast a provisional ballot.

“This is the first general election that we’ve been able to use this system and we expect to use it at all the precincts in the 2022 election. It will provide a faster check-in process,” Bunn said. “For now, we ask that the voting public be patient with us.”

As for safety, Bunn said masks are not required to vote. However, a limited number of masks will be available for members of the public who request them.

“Each of our voting facilities will be cleaned and sanitized before we open and after we complete voting,” Bunn said.

Anheuser Bush has donated hand sanitizer stations for each of the polling locations and individual pens will be available for each voter. Social distancing measures are in place and Bunn reminded voters to be mindful of others in the precincts.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, and close at 7 p.m.