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Former St. Louis Elections Director’s Electronic Poll Book Streamlines Voting Process

When Scott Leiendecker served as the elections director for St. Louis, he sought to a technological solution to address line management.

“It always bothered me whenever I would go and visit polling locations on Election Day … I would always witness one line longer than the other and have to take almost that beating from the public saying: ‘Well, why is nobody standing in this line? And why can't I get in this line?’”

To help streamline the process for both voters and poll workers, Leiendecker launched KnowInk in 2011, a company with a focus on voter registration technology.

Through it he created the Poll Pad, an electronic alternative to the large, thick paper poll books. On Tuesday, general municipal election voters across the state used the iPad-based tool to check in at their polling stations.

Leiendecker joined host Sarah Fenske on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air to talk more about how he developed the Poll Pad and how KnowInk is becoming one of the fastest-growing companies in the region.

“We were actually the first in the world to scan a driver's license on an iPad, and it got the attention of Apple at that time, so they helped us out early on and still do till today, because they think what we do in our product that we offer is really just one of those really cool stories that they get to tell,” he said.

The tool is appealing to both Democrats and Republicans, Leiendecker said, because it helps address various concerns.

“The Republicans, they want security; that seems to be their key issue at the polls. And on the Democrat side, they want speed; for people to be processed [quickly]. With this product, you can get the best of both worlds,” he said.

Leiendecker believes KnowInk is the only poll book vendor to work closely with Homeland Security on its security features during the last presidential election.

“They went line by line through our code to make sure that we were doing everything right, and they gave us a really clean bill of health and two thumbs-up,” he said.

He added that 90,000 units were used in the 2020 November elections across 28 states and nearly 1,000 jurisdictions.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.