Even in this day and age where just about everything is done online, elections officials nationwide are still tied to their telephones. In the days leading up to an election, elections offices can field hundreds of phone calls each day as anxious voters want to check on the status of their mail ballot. Not only can and does this put a strain on understaffed and overworked elections offices, it can put a strain on voters who get busy signals or are put on hold. Democracy Works — which most of you may recognize as the nonprofit parent organization for TurboVote — is working on a pilot project that will help alleviate some of this pressure on both the elections officials and the voters. “From the beginning of TurboVote, we knew that to improve elections for everyone, we needed to work with the people who actually run them,” said Kathryn Peters, co-founder of TurboVote. So Democracy Works partnered with Reboot, a service-design consultancy to shadow election administration in six offices in Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Florida, and Vermont in 2013.
Before beginning to build tools for election officials, Peters said Democracy Works wanted to learn how they worked, what they wanted for their own voters and operations, and what good ideas and innovations they could learn from or even simply help popularize. “What we definitely came across [while conducting the study] is that local election administrators are always trying to look for ways to do their jobs better,” said Monica Crane Childers, director of government services for Democracy Works. “There is an intense desire to serve the voter better.”
Following the study, Peters said they found a ballot tracking was a major issue facing elections officials. Also during the study they learned of ballot-tracking systems several elections offices were using and liking and so Democracy Works set out to make a similar tool available to a wider audience.
The system that Democracy Works has designed uses the Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMb) that are already provided by the U.S. Postal Service to track mail. It provides elections officials with a dashboard to review ballot envelopes so they can see when a voter has returned the ballot, anticipate big waves of mail and help officials let voters know when their ballot has arrived.
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.