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In this Nov. 8, 2016 file photo, voters cast their ballots at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center on the Near East Side of Madison.


State elections officials are preparing to pilot electronic poll books in the April 3 election as a test run for possible broader use of them in November.

Electronic poll books enable polling place workers to check in or register voters with a computerized poll book, instead of having them sign a paper one. Jurisdictions in 32 states now use them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The state Elections Commission last year developed the software for the so-called “Badger Book” program.

Sun Prairie is among the five municipalities in which it’s set to be piloted in the April election. In Sun Prairie and some other municipalities, tablets will be used for the e-poll hardware, while other municipalities will use desktop or laptop computers.

The Badger Book pilot will allow the commission “to gather feedback and make improvements before making the system available statewide for the August and November elections,” according to the agenda for Tuesday’s Elections Commission meeting.

E-poll book use will be voluntary for each of the more than 1,800 cities, villages or towns in Wisconsin, each of which administers elections within its boundary. Badger Book devices will not be connected to the internet on Election Day, the commission said.


Mark Sommerhauser covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.