COUNCIL BLUFFS — Voting in primary elections in Pottawattamie County might be a little different for some this year.
New bar-code scanners will be available for the first time in most precincts. A few precincts already have used the scanners.
The system offers an alternative voter check-in process, using the scanners to read the bar code on the back of a driver’s license or on the voter card issued by the county auditor.
Pottawattamie County Auditor Marilyn Jo Drake partnered with Cerro Gordo County Auditor Ken Kline on Wednesday for a mock election for two county precincts to run poll workers through the new process — and to throw some curve balls at them, too.
Drake said the mock election demonstrated the ability of precinct election officials to correctly and efficiently process hundreds of voters in a two-hour period, showcased the new check-in process and tested the new two-way communication between each precinct and the precinct atlas central database in Cerro Gordo County.
Kline said the atlas database, developed in his county, is used in 55 Iowa counties and has gained national recognition.
For the mock election, workers were deluged with voters offering a myriad of challenges: voters in the wrong precinct, registering for the first time, having just moved to the precinct and wanting to switch parties.
Kline said in a typical election, more than 90 percent of voters are registered correctly and voting runs smoothly. But for the mock election, they wanted to show all the problems.
The bar-code scanners are optional for voters to use, but there have been positive results in the two elections that have previewed the technology.
“The process is so much easier and there is less room for error,” said Kristi Everett, deputy Pottawattamie County auditor of elections. “It is exciting to see how far we have come.”