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RFID Brings Visibility to Ballots for Elections Board

By tracking ballot boxes, voting machines and other assets as they are sent to and returned from precincts, the Stark County Ohio Elections Board can ensure that ballots are accounted for during primary and general elections.
By Claire Swedberg

Since 2019's primary election, the BoE has used the technology in a general election, Wise says, adding that it worked well. In fact, he reports, during the general election, the Grey Trunk system accomplished exactly what he brought it into the elections process to do, as it helped the board locate missing memory cards left in a box on top of a warehouse shelf. "While others were scrambling and looking in empty boxes and throwing them all over the place," he states, "I scanned boxes that were 5 feet above my head, and I easily found them."

The Grey Trunk system was designed to break down the barrier of entry for companies looking to track their assets, according to Tyler Johnson, ARK Business Systems' general manager. "What we found is that a lot of the smaller companies might only have a limited number of assets that they want to track," Johnson says. "When they [approached] larger integrators, it was really outside their price point." Therefore, Johnson states, "We wanted to focus on the small to medium-sized businesses with fewer than 10,000 assets."

The solution consists of Grey Trunk's cloud-based software and mobile app. Users can begin tracking up to 500 assets at a cost of $49 per month, in addition to the expense of the tags and handheld RFID reader. ARK provides handhelds compatible with Grey Trunk—specifically, Zebra Technologies' RFD8500 and Technology Solutions (UK) Ltd. 1128 models. Grey Trunk offers its standard tags, including Metalcraft Universal on-metal tags. Custom RFID tags can also be purchased from MetalCraft.

The Grey Trunk solution was announced in November 2019, but it has been in use by the elections board and other companies for the past year. The solution is being deployed across the United States for tool tracking by rental companies, as well as electric-construction and tree-service businesses, for use in checking assets into and out of a facility. Typically, when trucks go out for the day, a bulk checkout can be accomplished by linking all equipment within a vehicle, and the system then indicates what has left with a specific vehicle and which items have been returned.

The company prices software access on a tiered level, based on the number of assets being tracked. Fewer than 100 tags being tracked is free, while the use of 100 to 500 tags costs $49 a month. Up to 5,000 costs $99, with up to 10,000 priced at $149. "That's for all features of the software," Johnson states, "and there is no limit to the number of sub-users."

Users can set alerts by using the calendar on their dashboard to indicate when maintenance should take place, or when assets should have returned but did not. They can also run reports and request them at a specific frequency, such as daily. For the Stark County Ohio Elections Board, the plan is to use the solution for this November's election. Moving forward, the board hopes to achieve 100 percent implementation in its supply and ballot box pick-up and drop-off processes.

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