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Yesterday, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) announced five winners in its competition to identify best practices in recruiting and training individuals to work as election workers. From the EAC release:
EAC Chairman Thomas Hicks announced today the results of an Election Worker Best Practices Competition.
The EAC honored five winners for their excellence in recruiting, training, and retaining election workers. The EAC’s Election Worker Best Practices Competition was a national contest that sought to identify and honor the best poll worker management practices from around the country. Election officials submitted their best practices in the form of videos, websites, training guides, and narratives to the EAC. The EAC then facilitated a review process in which a group of seven state and local election officials judged the entries based on five criteria: (1) innovativeness, (2) effectiveness, (3) sustainability, (4) cost effectiveness, and (5) potential for replication.
The winning entries are described in more detail on the competition page:
Brevard County, Florida – Practice makes Perfect Lab
The Practice Makes Perfect Lab was first implemented during the 2012 primary election. Since 2012, over 1,700 Poll Workers have voluntarily invested their personal time to participate in the Lab review sessions. The Practice Makes Perfect Lab provides the opportunity for election workers to review procedures and receive hands on training in a self-paced learning environment. The Lab does not take the place of mandatory training, but serves to reinforce key Election Day practices.
The Lab allows election workers to practice set up and closing procedures on voting equipment and test their knowledge of common issues they might encounter on Election Day.
Franklin County, Ohio – Champions of Democracy
Franklin County’s “Champions of Democracy” program is a campaign to recruit employees from local businesses to serve as poll workers. During this campaign the board of elections;
Additionally the county recognized the importance of providing poll workers with the opportunity for a final review of election procedures and materials just prior to them serving on Election Day. As a result they developed “Practice Makes Perfect,” an open house review staffed by poll worker trainers, which is held on the weekend (Friday evening through Sunday) preceding every election.
Hamilton County, Ohio – Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Precinct Election Officials
The county uses a Youth at the Booth (YATB) program to recruit high school students to work the polls. YATB participants played an important role in the successful transition to recently deployed electronic poll books, as they often have a greater familiarity and understanding of technology. By pairing technological savvy high school students with longer serving precinct election officials, who have a better understanding of election processes, the county can provide the perfect combination of technological comfort and experience at the polls.
Additionally the county instituted a new program to engage the business community and government agencies in the election process called “Partners in Democracy.” Participating businesses and agencies are encouraged to give their employees a “day off for democracy” to allow them to serve as election workers.
This fall the county is also implementing an own online training course for precinct election officials who feel the need for additional training.
To help retain precinct election officials , the county administers a post-election survey of these officials seeking input on ways the election process could be better run. Some of the best ideas to improve processes have come through these surveys.
Montgomery County, Maryland – Precinct Performance Report
Montgomery County, Maryland has created a formalized review procedure called the Precinct Performance Report, which evaluates and develops election judge performance and ultimately improves the voters’ experience at the polls. This assessment provides critical data documenting and visualizing which precincts need attention and those areas where multiple precincts are underperforming, and to improve the county’s training program.
The report (see sample) charts each precinct’s success or failure at meeting established performance standards and goals. Since the data is precinct-specific, it clearly distinguishes between issues that face all or most precincts and those issues that are specific to one or a few precincts.
The report is based on reports and logs related to the voting equipment, provisional voting, and other paperwork that must be completed on Election Day. Using these data a detailed assessment on each precinct is created and each precinct receives a ranking.
New Hanover County, North Carolina – Election Official Resource Portal
New Hanover County, North Carolina recently developed the “Election Official Resource Portal” (EORP) to provide centralized access to election-related documents, training, and other information. The portal is updated weekly and is designed to thoroughly prepare poll workers for their specific duties. Information provided includes:
The updated portal, which is currently called the Precinct Official Management Portal, will be released soon.
Additionally to help retain the best poll workers, the county gives out awards for service longevity as well as hosts post-election meetings and focus groups with poll workers. Summary of their retention programs found here.
Congratulations to the winners; these are all fantastic programs and worth the time (after the November election, of course!) for other jurisdictions to study and consider following suit.
Thanks especially to the EAC for sponsoring this competition; for more details and other poll worker recruitment and retention resources, check out the EAC’s election worker best practices page.
Seven weeks until Election Day … stay tuned!