EAC Announces Winners of Innovation “Clearies”

[Image via michiganradio]

Six jurisdictions have been recognized by the EAC to receive Clearinghouse Awards (“Clearies”) for projects reflecting innovation in the field of elections. Here’s the announcement:

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) today announced the six winners of the 2019 Clearinghouse “Clearie” Award for Outstanding Innovations in Election Administration. The awardees harnessed the buy-in of election officials to secure statewide databases and election management systems, utilized geographic information systems to improve operations, developed apps for shortening lines, conducted extensive outreach to tribal lands, engaged the community with roundtable discussions, and requested real-time feedback from voters through a QR code.

Established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), the EAC is charged with serving as a clearinghouse for election administration information. To uphold this, the EAC launched the Clearies in 2016 to promote best election practices.

“Presidential election years present unique challenges for election officials and voting has already begun in the Nation’s first primary,” said EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick. “We are excited to announce the Clearie awards to recognize election officials across the country who did exceptional work to improve election administration in 2019, while they buckle down for a busy election year. The recipients of these awards displayed ingenuity and creativity in their service to voters and election workers, and they are outstanding examples for other election administrators. On behalf of myself and my three fellow Commissioners, I congratulate their achievements and look forward to seeing their contributions from 2019 continue in the 2020 elections and beyond.”

Now in its fourth year, the “Clearie” awards recognize the innovative efforts of election officials across America. Entries were judged based on each initiative’s creation of positive results, innovation, sustainability, outreach efforts, cost-effectiveness and replicability.

The winners of the 2019 Clearie Award for Outstanding Innovations in Election Administration are:

Ann Arbor City Clerk’s Office, MIThe Line Tracking Project

The Line Tracking Project is the culmination of several years of extensive research studying voter wait times. The project features a new public website allowing voters to check wait times at their local polling place and access additional tools to facilitate the voting process. The website and tools were introduced in 2018 and improved upon during the 2019 elections. As home to the University of Michigan, many Ann Arbor polling places previously experienced long wait times. In partnership with the University, the project team continues to evaluate how line counts, website data, e-pollbook numbers, and ballots casts can be harnessed to improve the voter experience.

Coconino County Elections Office, AZNative American Elections Outreach Program

Started in the late 1970’s, Coconino County leads an extensive Native American Outreach Program. The program has emerged as a hub to coordinate the unique elections needs of communication, registration, and polling in tribal lands. Outreach activities include: the coordination of reservation polling places and vote centers, election worker recruitment and training, a customized handbook to assist Navajo poll workers, and other initiatives. All of these efforts have allowed the county to develop a successful outreach program that continues to evolve and improve.

Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, AZCounty-wide Roundtable Outreach Project

In 2019, the county conducted an extensive Roundtable Project engaging underrepresented and historically disenfranchised communities in the elections process. Through this initiative, the county collaborated with a community host to identify topics for discussion and foster community involvement in addressing elections issues. Each roundtable consisted of a presentation from the county and a guided discussion with attendees. The programs led to outstanding results in increasing voter engagement while allowing the county to receive direct feedback about community-specific access needs.

Salt Lake County Election Division, UT“Innovating and Accountability” Initiative

Leading up to the 2019 elections, Salt Lake County focused on “Innovating and Accountability,” a comprehensive effort to improve election services through enhanced poll worker training and the use of new technologies. From open-source election worker directory management software, to a QR code voter outreach survey, to creative uses of GIS programs, the county produced several cost-effective, sustainable, and innovative solutions that will benefit voters for years to come. Poll worker and voter feedback surveys documented the benefits of their efforts and will allow the county to evaluate future endeavors.

Office of the Secretary of State, WAVoteWA Project

With planning commencing in 2014, the VoteWA Project sought to create a secure and modern Elections Management System and statewide voter registration database. The Secretary of State’s Office cultivated buy-in from the 39 county auditors across the state to achieve several goals. As a result, VoteWA was effectively used as the statewide voter registration and election management system in the 2019 August primary and general elections. The VoteWa project provides a secure environment for the state’s voter data and other elections information. It will also save taxpayer dollars, reduce data management time for local election officials, increase confidence in election security, and enable a number of process efficiencies.

Yolo County Elections Office, CAHarnessing Technology to Improve Polling Place Resources and Response Time, Strengthen Voter Communications, and Increase Future Turnout

In 2018, the county harnessed GIS systems and mapping, along with a new poll worker app, to streamline election night reporting and improve voter participation. The Elections Office partnered with the county’s Information Technology division of the General Services Department to attain several innovative successes. The effort resulted in improved resource allocation, greater response time to polling places, strengthened communication of election results to citizens, and the likelihood of increasing future turnout through targeted outreach and education.

Collectively, these six projects exemplify some of the best work out there aiming to change the elections field – including both new technological approaches and old-fashioned community outreach. Kudos to all the winners for their contributions to the national elections community – and thanks as always to the EAC for taking the time to recognize quality work going on nationwide. Stay tuned …

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