poll book

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In modern usage, the poll book refers to a list of all persons who are eligible and registered to vote in a voting district. In the United Kingdom and the former British colonies, poll books are usually called “electoral rolls.”

In recent years, electronic poll books (or e-poll books) have been replacing the older three-ring-binder paper-based poll books, and a majority of US states now use electronic poll books. Electronic poll books allow voters to sign in electronically and poll workers to scan driver’s licenses to pull up voter information, redirect voters in the wrong location to the correct polling place, find real-time updates of voter history, see turnout numbers, and to see whether a voter has already voted at another polling place. There are some concerns, however, that e-poll books could pose greater security threats than the traditional paper-based ones and are more subject to cyber attacks.

Historically, the term “poll book” also referred to the official register that poll workers used to record votes before the introduction of the secret ballot, which ensures voter anonymity and prevents voter intimidation. Voters used to publicly raise their hands and have their names recorded in a poll book to have their vote recorded for an election.

[Last updated in August of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]