EAC “Innovation” Awards Go To Denver, Indian River and Pierce Counties

[Image via EAC]

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission rounded out its 2017 Clearinghouse Award announcements yesterday by honoring three counties – Denver, CO, Indian River, FL and Pierce, WA – for innovations in election administration. From the press releases:

“These awards celebrate the very best in election practices across the nation,” said EAC Chairman Matthew Masterson. “As we travel throughout the country, our commission sees first-hand the innovation and commitment to excellence that election officials and their partners bring to their work. These awards acknowledge that work and highlight best practices that other election administrations can emulate.”

Denver County received the award for the launch of eSign, a first-in-the-nation mobile petition signing application. eSign allows candidates to use tablets signed with a stylus to gather petition signatures if they choose to opt-in. The app, running on tablets registered with the election division, is able to confirm that a signer is a registered voter because it interfaces with a voter database. Gatherers can also tell at a glance how many signatures they have collected, as the app keeps a running tally.

Prior to the development of eSign, candidates had to collect signatures on paper petitions, turn them into the Denver Elections Division and wait for them to be verified. Historically, 30-35 percent of those signatures were invalid, compared to just 1-3 percent of signatures collected using eSign…

Indian River County received the award for a new voter outreach program. “Post the Vote” utilized storefront concrete posts, also called “bollards,” to promote countywide voter awareness and participation for the 2016 federal election. Sixty bollard covers were delivered to 24 publicly funded schools, four McDonald’s, two libraries, four county offices, two municipalities, two recreation centers, a food bank, two local businesses and one state college. Each bollard promoted the “3 Ways to Vote” in Indian River County: Early Voting, Vote by Mail and Voting on Election Day, with a URL where voters could find additional information. Images of the bollards were also promoted on social media…

Pierce County received the award for the development of “Batch Tracker Manager” (BTM). In 2016, Pierce County upgraded from an optical scan ballot tabulation system to a modern, digital scan system. This transition provided an opportunity to completely rethink the intake, verification, opening and scanning processes. This led to BTM – a SQL database with Microsoft Access interface, used in conjunction with unique barcoded target cards that cover batches of 250 ballots. Off-the-shelf handheld scanners “touch” each target card as a batch moves through various work stations.

Pierce County reports the digital scan system has reduced ballot handling time, improved reconciliation, and eliminated multiple layers of paperwork, resulting in efficiencies and cost savings.

As with the award winners in poll worker recruitment and accessibility for voters with disabilities, this trio of “Clearie” honorees represents a hefty handful of good ideas that other jurisdictions may well want to consider emulating if not copying outright. Congratulations to all three – and thanks again to the EAC for this award program, which allows election officials to “brag on” their best accomplishments and share them with a nationwide audience.

Note to election offices nationwide: this could be you in 2018 … don’t hesitate to share – and stay tuned!

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