County approves digitizing voter forms

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By Chris Sardelli

A new electronic database will soon help with organizing voter registration records in Lancaster County.

County Council recently approved funding of more than $8,000 to create a searchable voter registration database.

The database, which will be created by Charlotte-based Advanced Imaging, will include scanned copies of all the commission’s voter registration forms dating back to 1967.

The digital copies will be kept on servers at another location. The cost to maintain the database will be $2,100 a year.

The issue was first brought to council in late February by Cassie Stump, director of the Lancaster County Voter Registration and Election Commission.

Stump said she became interested in setting up a computerized system after the Lancaster County Courthouse burned last August. She worried that if a similar thing were to happen to her office, more than 40 years of voter records would be lost.

“Because our records go back all that way, some are getting kind of old and fragile,” Stump said. “If anything happened, everything could be gone.”

The system will also help cut down on long lines during elections, too.

Stump said lines slow down when voters who have had name or address changes either call her office or show up at the wrong polling place.

With the new system, Stump said it will be easy to look up names by their Social Security numbers.

Stump hopes to integrate the information with the state’s electronic voter registration list so her office will have a comprehensive list of past and current voters.

“It’s a very good idea and it would be very helpful on Election Day,” Stump said. “It would be a lot easier to get everything done.”

Stump sees further uses for the database, including helping to cut down on time commission employees spend on petitions.

Stump said every time a petition is sent to her office, the staff must check that only registered voters have signed their names. The electronic system would speed up the process.

County Administrator Steve Willis agrees that the new system will make the office run more efficiently.

Willis said computerizing the records will make elections run much smoother by cutting down on the amount of paperwork employees search through.

“It’s not only for backup, but it will make things easier for them (the commission),” he said.

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416