ECJ pilots e-poll book at UWI elections

Friday, March 22, 2019

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THE Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) conducted a pilot of the electronic poll book at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Guild of Students elections on Wednesday.

The e-poll book on iPad devices, referred to as a poll pad, was used in place of the traditional paper-based documents to electronically identify, verify and check off voters in the polling stations during the election.

The technology used in the pilot in Jamaica is provided and supported by KNOWiNK, a United States-based team of election experts that assists jurisdictions to modernise elections with best-in-class technology. According to the KNOWiNK representatives, Jamaica is the first country in the Caribbean to test the poll pad.

With this new technology, electoral officials are able to readily provide relevant, accurate and timely statistics on voter turnout, including demographic information about electors. Therefore, the ECJ is able to identify not only the number of persons who voted in the election, but also ascertain a profile of the voters. During the UWI elections, officials were able to monitor real time updates of the voter turnout as the day progressed.

The e-poll book system is described as faster and more efficient than the traditional paper-based model, with electors at UWI being processed in 51 seconds on average. Voters approached the poll workers and presented their ID card. The card was scanned and the elector's information identified on the screen within seconds. Once the electors were checked in and successfully processed, the systems at all polling stations are synchronised and updated with the information to prevent an elector from attempting to vote at any other station. After being successfully processed, the elector continued to manually mark the ballot paper behind a screen, maintaining the secrecy of the vote.

The ECJ already administers electronic ballot counting at UWI and University of Technology Guild elections with the use of Automated Tabulators. This has led to a significantly quicker turnaround time for election results through scanning of ballots and electronically tallying the votes. The automated counting system was piloted several years ago and has been used in a number of elections for local institutions. The technology used for electronic tallying is provided and supported by the DELIAN Project, a Canadian non-governmental organisation that assists in advancement of democratic processes through the application of technology.

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