City Governments Embrace Technology to Modernize Vital Election Processes
The U.S. midterm elections are set to take place Nov. 6, and government organizations across the country are preparing for a busy election day, while processing a record number of absentee voters. Whether ballots arrive via mail, in-person or are dropped off at a polling place, election administrators are faced with managing vital processes that often involve cumbersome manual tasks.
With the influx of voters, government organizations tackle the familiar challenge of doing more with less. Many are now implementing technology solutions to update decades-old processes that are time consuming, lacking transparency and difficult to scale. These new systems facilitate voter engagement while also meeting regulatory requirements.
Two local governments reimagined the voting experience using information management software to streamline processes that ultimately enhanced collaboration, improved the citizen experience and saved taxpayer dollars.
Streamlining Voting Processes in Aspen, Colorado
According to Colorado state law, new voters can register up until Election Day and voters can submit up to three ballots (each successive ballot voids the previous one). Before implementing an information management software to streamline the election process, the City of Aspen tracked votes by hand in a poll book.
For in-person voting, poll workers had to search through printed registration lists to determine whether a voter was at the correct voting center. New voters who registered at the county clerk’s office had to bring a printed certificate to the vote center; the voter’s registration was then confirmed by a poll worker by calling the county clerk, and finally allowing the person to cast their vote. If a voter moved to a different precinct or changed their name, poll workers had to call the county clerk to confirm these changes as well as verify signatures on mail-in or drop-off ballots against a printed list.
The City of Aspen found and implemented an information management solution that streamlined the entire voting process, starting with voter registration. Today, the city uses its solution to manage registered voters’ information and images of their signatures digitally. The city clerk can also run an automated workflow that parses the information and makes updates as necessary.
Since the state of Colorado gives each voter three chances to vote, the city also uses the solution to keep track of submitted ballots. Each mailed ballot is identified by a unique barcode which enables election judges to check the signature on the ballot against the one that’s been digitally stored. If they don’t match up, the city clerk contacts the person and asks them to prove their identity in a different way.
The on-site voting process has also been transformed: Now, when a person arrives to vote, the election judge checks the person in by finding the digital voter’s signature image that the city has on file. Election judges use the solution’s electronic forms to record who has voted, including newly registered voters’ information, which is also automatically saved and organized digitally.
Automating the Election Judge Application and Training in Burnsville, Minnesota
One of the most time consuming election processes for the City of Burnsville was the election judge application process. In a major election year, more than 300 election judges are needed to staff the city’s 17 precincts—meaning the city clerk’s office had more than 300 applications, skills tests, training and onboarding activities to process in a short period of time. The entire process was paper-based, and the city clerk’s office printed hundreds of applications and tests, inflating the city’s printing costs and requiring precious time to print and mail the documents. All of the returned documents were processed by hand, and the data was typed into huge spreadsheets. Additionally, if an application was not legible or information was missing, the applicant would need to be contacted to obtain clarification.
After implementing an information management software, the City of Burnsville was able to digitally transform the election judge application and training signup process. Now, prospective election judges complete an online application. Once the form is submitted, it triggers a workflow that saves the application in a repository while also automatically directing applicants to the electronic skills test form. Once the skills test form is complete, it is electronically scored and saved in the repository, along with the application and important data, which can then be downloaded into a spreadsheet for sorting and tracking. Nearly all the manual tasks once required in recruiting election judges are now automated.
Benefits of Digitizing and Automating Election Processes
Powerful automation tools have made all of the difference in Aspen and Burnsville’s elections.
“Since we have implemented the new system, we have achieved efficiency in ways we couldn’t have imagined,” says Linda Manning, City Clerk for the City of Aspen. “The new solution enables us to better serve our constituents. Our streamlined approached to the election process has expedited our workflows, improved communication and made our government more transparent and accountable.”
“We’ve saved approximately 80 staff hours that were previously spent mailing applications, scoring tests and maintaining a huge spreadsheet of applicants,” says Megan McNeal, Deputy City Clerk at the City of Burnsville. “These savings will continue in future election cycles.”
Today, the cities’ streamlined processes have vastly improved voter and staff experiences and efficiency, by:
- Drastically reducing manual data entry: Electronic forms automatically pull data from primary applications to pre-populate fields
- Increasing accuracy and information completeness: Workflow automation standardizes repetitive processes and reduces manual tasks that can lead to human error
- Maintaining security and auditability: Digital information and processes are easier to track and audit, enabling staff to establish and enforce policies
Watch the “Modernizing Vital Election Processes in the Digital Age” to learn how two forward-thinking government organizations are successfully leveraging technology to streamline the voter registration and election judge hiring process.
Want to learn more about how state and local governments can benefit from deploying process automation solutuons, and advocate for their funding? Read the industry brief: The Future of Workflow Automation in State and Local Government”.