[Image via EAC]
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission awarded 2019 Clearinghouse Awards (“Clearies”) to six election offices for their innovative work in pollworker recruitment and accessibility for voters with disabilities. Here are the details, first on the pollworker awards:
The winners of the 2019 Clearie Award for Best Practices in Recruiting, Retaining, and Training Election Workers are:
El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, CO: Election Judge Video Training Program
The Clerk and Recorder’s Office collaborated with the county’s Public Information Office to create a video classroom training module consisting of twelve “chapters” illustrating each of the duties required of an election judge. The videos are being used to prepare potential applicants for the requirements of their position, thereby reducing turnover and helping the county maintain capable election workers.
Martin County Elections Office, FL: Work the Polls Program for Recruiting High School and College Students
Recognizing that most poll workers were 65 years of age or older, Martin County developed a Work the Polls campaign to recruit high school and college students for poll worker positions. Interns created a video to be posted on the website while staff reached out through meetings and presentations on campuses throughout Martin County. This outreach led to a more representative demographic for poll workers while increasing community involvement in the elections process.
Wake County Board of Elections, NC: Vote to Volunteer Program
The elections office designed “buck slips” to recruit poll workers and increase interest in the election worker process. The slips were included in county-wide elections and tax revenue mailings already set in place. These advertisements led to a substantial increase in applications for election worker positions, allowing staff to streamline the recruitment process and focus on other needs. The increase has not only prepared for attrition in existing poll worker pools but has allowed the county to create a STAR Team of poll workers on stand-by for any needed last-minute substitutions.
In addition, three offices received accessibility awards, starting with Merced County, CA:
During the 2019 elections, Merced County utilized their new Multilingual Virtual Poll Worker Program (MVP) to assist voters who are deaf by providing a direct iPad-based connection to American Sign Language interpreters. In an effort to make the voting process accessible and inclusive to all county voters, a planning and research effort resulted in the adoption of the new county-wide system. The convenience of using an app-based program on user-friendly iPads made the integration of the new service seamless at polling places. The MVP may also be used to provide interpreters for dozens of languages.
Another award went to the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL):
Over the past two years, NCIL has worked to promote their toolkit for election officials and voters with disabilities. The “Achieving Accessibility for Election Websites and Sample Ballots” toolkit provides information for election workers and disability advocates on resources to improve the online accessibility of election offices and sample ballots. Through a clearly constructed web-based presentation, the comprehensive guide seeks to help individuals and organizations understand the importance of accessibility and ballot access. The toolkit’s five chapters work to empower advocates and election officials by discussing topics such as website access barriers, accessibility evaluation tools, and ways local disability advocates can work with election officials to improve accessibility on the frontline of democracy.
And finally, the Washington, DC Board of Elections:
The DC BOE works diligently to ensure the accessibility of the voting process for voters with disabilities. This award recognizes the BOE’s overall commitment to accessibility. The elections office has worked to implement new voting machines, an electronic absentee ballot marking system, polling place ADA surveys, and poll worker training, all focused on helping voters with access needs. Other accomplishments include eliminating barriers to voting such as inaccessible polling sites, curbside voting, and no excuse absentee voting. In 2018, an independent organization surveyed all DC polling places and found 98% offering outstanding physical access for voters with disabilities.
These winners and all the other recipients of the Clearinghouse Awards represent some of the most thoughtful and cutting-edge work being done right now in the elections field. Congratulations to the winners – and kudos to the EAC for continuing its commitment to recognizing innovation and excellence in election administration! Stay tuned …