The next U.S. presidential election is not so far away. And, while administrational methodologies may change, the basic importance of verifying signatures and tabulating ballots is agnostic to county or jurisdiction.
City and county offices, staffed by permanent employees, typically oversee the administration of elections. When Election Day approaches, these employees rely on temporary poll workers — sometimes called election workers or election judges — to assist with a variety of tasks. Recruitment efforts are underway for the estimated 1 million poll workers needed for the election cycle that culminates every four years in November.
Yet finding volunteers to complete the manual tasks associated with democratic elections can be challenging in these divisive, polarizing times. In 2020, 775,000 poll workers staffed over 132,500 polling places nationwide, according to data gleaned from the Election Assistance Commission. Some 52% of election jurisdictions admitted difficulties in obtaining enough poll workers.
Why? Because, despite state and federal laws that protect election officials (and voters), many people feel intimidated by political activists. Fearing for their personal safety, these citizens no longer wish to volunteer their time. Indeed, threats, politicization and violence around the election process have increased dramatically since 2020, reported the not-for-profit Brennan Center for Justice, a law and public policy institute at New York University School of Law. This past October, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned that seven states continued to see unusual levels of threats to election workers.
In past elections, groups concerned about widespread voter fraud sought to encourage volunteer poll workers to challenge voters and question routine election processes. Some workers have been accused of fraudulent activity themselves. The working environment became uncomfortable for some people who had functioned as election helpers for years.
An individual’s personal views or political party affiliation notwithstanding, reports of such incidents can affect the availability of temporary employees needed at election time.
So, what’s the United States to do if it no longer can recruit a dependable and diverse cadre of poll workers to help generate a democracy that more fairly represents all Americans? The answer is objective machine automation. Election offices nationwide already rely on automated equipment to save time, increase accuracy, and reduce labor costs.
This technology has two major benefits: 1) Automation reduces the number of temporary workers required for staffing during elections, and 2) it frees up officials to spend less time on training–and more time optimizing the process.
The use of absentee ballots is a practice that has been in place for over 160 years, since the U.S. Civil War (1861-65). During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, 46% of U.S. voters voted by mail in 2020, reported the Pew Research Center, and 33% did so in the 2022 mid-terms. With so many people now voting by mail, it is more imperative than ever that county election offices implement secure procedures for collecting, imaging, and sorting mail-in ballots.
In the next elections, officials will work within legal guidelines to validate and count ballots received by mail and, in many cases, could use some help. Solutions are needed for handling mail-in ballots–either manually or by machines and software like those offered by trusted partners, such as Tritek Solutions. Using automated ballot-scanning machines can significantly reduce errors associated with manual processing and increase voter confidence.
For example, Tritek’s ballot envelope-processing system features automation to fit specific needs, thus providing a targeted county office ballot solution that meets each municipality’s unique requirements. Our innovative Correct Elect system offers proprietary, vote-by-mail automation customized to voting-district requirements. The patented systems are proven in the field, having been successfully implemented in numerous cities and counties. With a processing speed of 10,000 to 30,000 per hour, this solution is ideal for jurisdictions that have higher volumes of vote by mail ballot envelopes.
Additionally, the Nomad OCR (optical character recognition) document-scanning solution for elections can process up to 3,000 pieces per hour. As a mail-imaging machine, Nomad scans each piece, making it easy to store and archive digital copies. The mail scanner is portable and tabletop-sized, making it easy to move around and plug into any regular 120V AC outlet. Plus, its OCR technology enables it to read every single piece that passes through it, ensuring that nothing gets missed.
Remember, whether cast in person or by mail, votes count for people determined to do their civic duties. During the coming election cycles, let Tritek help you employ robust technology to ensure that their ballots are tabulated fairly and accurately!