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. Voting by Mail (VBM) Trends 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!
Vote by mail is here to stay for the U.S. electorate. Despite polarizing opinions about mail-in ballots, recent elections have demonstrated the popularity of this voting method. Analysts from every position on the political spectrum agree that mail-in voting affects election outcomes. We also know that delayed election results breed unfounded suspicion about election integrity. To speed up the process, election officials are turning to automation and technology. Before Tabulation Before ballot envelopes are even opened, they must be sorted by precinct and pass the prescribed signature verification steps. Tritek’s patented technology automates these processes. Our solutions allow the ballots to enter the counting process quicker while building an audit trail that includes time-stamped images of every ballot that passes through the system. Our patented Correct Elect Vote by Mail technology drives solutions custom designed and built for each entity’s requirements. Tritek evaluates variables such as floor space requirements, volume fluctuations, and ballot designs to help customers acquire the combination of software and hardware that matches their needs. Defining Vote by Mail Mail balloting systems come in two varieties. The first is what some states call universal “vote by mail,” where the state government mails ballots to all voters. In most states, however, voting by mail is through absentee balloting, where the voter must request an absentee ballot. Despite partisan fears, research suggests neither party gains an advantage via mail-in voting. There is no evidence that mail ballots increase electoral fraud and several anti-fraud protections are built into the process. Though they came to the forefront during the COVID pandemic, mail-in voting was already gaining popularity. In 2016, nearly one-quarter of U.S. votes (33 million) were cast by either universal mail or absentee ballots.1 What is Automated Ballot Processing? Automated ballot processing uses hardware and software technologies to verify, sort, and tabulate mailed-in paper ballots instead of manually verifying and counting votes. Computerized technology is cheaper, faster, and more accurate than manual counting. It also improves the voting process by making complex electoral systems easier to use. With automated ballot processing, election offices can offer better security and faster results. The Need for Speed With automated ballot processing, election offices can increase citizen trust because technology is impartial. Voters can trust that election workers are custodians of important information and work in the community’s interests. Any improvements election officials can make to speed the announcement of results while maintaining the integrity of the process is positive. Trust declines if uncertainty about election winners linger. It is necessary to count ballots quickly for several reasons: Ensuring the accuracy of the election results: The quicker a jurisdiction can complete the ballot count, the faster they can announce the election results. Rapid processing helps ensure correct and reliable results, as automated systems identify errors or irregularities more quickly. Maintaining public confidence in the electoral process: When counties count ballots quickly, it prevents the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories that could undermine public confidence in the electoral process. People are more likely to trust the results that are announced promptly and transparently. Allowing for a smooth transition of power: When a change of leadership occurs, such as in a presidential election, counting the ballots quickly helps ensure a smooth and timely transition of power. Immediate processing is vital for maintaining political stability, continuity, and avoiding potential disputes or conflicts resulting from delayed information. Meeting legal requirements and deadlines: Election officials must meet some legal requirements and deadlines for the election results to be valid. A speedy count ensures they meet these requirements, and the election results are accurate and legally binding. In short, quickly counting votes is essential for ensuring the accuracy and legitimacy of election results. Speedy processing helps maintain public confidence in the electoral process, facilitates a smooth transition of power, and meets legal requirements and deadlines. Learn More About Automated Vote by Mail Processing: Why Election Officials Are Expecting a Surge in Vote-By-Mai How Does Automated Ballot Processing Work? Why Manual Ballot Handling is Not Enough Anymore www.brookings.edu/policy2020/votervital/how-does-vote-by-mail-work-and-does-it-increase-election-fraud/
Until recent elections, the voting public rarely paid attention to how mail-in ballots were processed, verified, and submitted for tabulation. It just happened. The election results appeared on television way past your kid’s bedtime and that was that. Now, it seems everyone is concerned with this mostly administrative process. Election offices at any level relying on manual tabulation by volunteers will find their procedures questioned. Fortunately, automated ballot processing provides the level of accountability crucial to election officials’ credibility. What is Automated Ballot Processing? Automated ballot processing uses hardware and software technologies to process mailed-in paper ballots instead of manually verifying, sorting, and counting votes. Automated technology is cheaper, faster, and more accurate than manual handling. Automation also improves the voting process by making complex electoral systems easier to use. Automated Ballot Processing Security and Accountability The first question an election official would ask a provider of automated ballot processing technology is: “How do you guarantee security?” The election official will field the same question from voters in their municipality. Constituents demand accountability from their election administrators. Automated processing answers this fundamental question. Ballot integrity is central to the voting process. It begins with scanning each envelope, verifying signatures, and sorting the sealed ballots by precinct. Digital ingestion of the ballot provides an audit trail, ballot process management, and status reporting. Scans are archived in color, grayscale, or black and white. Automated signature verification reduces the labor costs associated with manual validation and assures regulatory and security compliance. The automated systems detect voters’ signatures with barcodes and verifies them against a database of registered voters. Voter fraud or voting twice is virtually impossible with automated ballot processing. If an individual who has already voted using an absentee ballot shows up at a polling station and attempts to vote again, electronic poll books will display that information. Poll workers will not admit the voter or will require them to complete a provisional ballot. If a second vote slips through, the election database detects two votes from the same voter and only counts the first vote. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission recommends states establish written procedures for the manual duplication of voted ballots to verify that each vote is counted only once. The number of mailed ballot return envelopes must balance with the tabulation. This standard accounting practice assures the vote is correct. Other automated equipment may open the outside envelopes and the carrier envelopes that hold the ballots. The opening and extraction process uses precise milling technology and thickness detection. Automated opening is safer and provides a higher level of security than opening by hand. Workers are considerably less involved, supporting a voter’s privacy. How Election Offices Benefit from Automated Ballot Processing When should city, county, and state election offices consider an automated process? When: It is difficult to recruit qualified administrative staff. This is especially relevant given record low unemployment. There have been irregular vote counts in past elections. Candidates, constituents, and the media routinely question the vote counts. There is a need to reduce the number of election workers. The ballot us too complex to be easily read by workers. The vote count comes in too slowly. With automated ballot processing, election offices can provide a greater level of security for citizens. Trust in the system is escalated. Any thought of improper handling by workers is eliminated. Public perception of the election officials and the office is positive. Voters trust that election workers are custodians of important information and work in the community’s interests. The election office has proven accountability. With mail-in voting, citizens can submit their ballot when it is convenient. However, the surge of mail that election centers receive is often overwhelming. Ballot surges are taxing for municipalities lacking enough employees they can redeploy for processing the envelopes. Analysts predict mail-in balloting to increase. Government employee headcount likely will not. How will city, county, and state governments count tens or hundreds of thousands of ballots? Privacy and security are paramount concerns. Automated equipment and software allow election officials to process thousands of ballots per hour with secure tracking and accountability. Implementation Tritek features patented vote-by-mail technology. Our vote-by-mail solutions are custom designed and built for each municipalities’ specific requirements. This includes floor space consideration, volume fluctuations, and types of ballot designs. Portable and desktop systems are available. The number of sort bins is customizable based on volume requirements. Tritek’s Correct Elect technology is proven at many county election offices, nationwide. Tritek holds the exclusive patent on ballot method and apparatus to provide a full audit trail, ballot process management, and status reporting. We custom design and build Vote-By-Mail solutions that will fit any facility, ready to process any mail volume and ballot design. View Related Vote By Mail Articles: Is Vote by Mail Safe? How Does Automated Ballot Sorting Work? Addressing the Top Concerns of Vote By Mail Automated Processing