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2021 Clearie Honorable Mentions Awardees

Friday, June 09, 2023

The EAC would also like to recognize the following jurisdictions for 2021 Clearie Honorable Mention awards.

Outstanding Innovations in Elections

Adams County Clerk and Recorder and Arapahoe County Elections Office (CO) - Joint Voter Service and Polling Center 

This effort worked to expand the partnership between Adams County and Arapahoe County to include a joint Voter Service and Polling Center where voters from either side of the county line would have access to all the ballot content reflecting their home county. 

Thurston County Auditor, WA - Election Observer Program 

During the 2020 General Election, the Thurston County Auditor's Office experienced a dramatic increase in inquiries regarding ballot processing. In response, during the 2021 elections, the Elections Division instituted an enhanced program for observers at the Ballot Processing Center (BPC). Auditors are statutorily required to allow partisan observers. Their office requests observers for every election, yet historically had very little participation. The Elections Division made extra efforts to boost participation in the program in 2021. In addition to the office’s regular written request for observers they made multiple phone inquiries explaining the importance of observers. Non-partisan observers were also recruited through public communications, specifically press releases, social media posts, and a full-page ad in the Voters' Pamphlet, which is mailed to all households in the county. During the 2021 election cycle, the election division saw the largest and most consistent number of observers in the BPC, despite limitations on capacity due to the pandemic. 

Outstanding Innovations in Election Cybersecurity and Technology 

Iowa Secretary of State, Iowa - Cybersecurity Escape Room 

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate launched the nation's first Cybersecurity Escape Room training exercise for election officials in 2021. The program, designed in collaboration with CyberDefenses, challenges officials on their election expertise and general cybersecurity knowledge, ultimately helping county election officials and IT staff protect the integrity of the vote. The Cybersecurity Escape Room represents a new way of approaching cybersecurity training. Using founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, election officials must work together to answer questions and solve puzzles related to a fictitious election scenario. The model can be copied by every state, and can be made into a fun, hands-on competition to see which county or jurisdiction can complete the puzzle first. 

San Mateo County, Department of the Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder and Chief Elections Officer, CA - Innovative Cybersecurity and Election Security for Vote-by-Mail/Vote Center Election Environment 

As the first county in the state of California to conduct a Vote-by-Mail/Vote Center Election, San Mateo County pioneered new and innovative technologies to protect elections infrastructure from cyberattacks. Consisting of 45 vote centers, 42 drop boxes, and vote-by-mail options, the elections model depended on the effective communication of voter registration data through a network with “impenetrable connectivity.”  IT professionals were charged with developing secure connections through innovative technologies such as CradlePoint routers, Tenex e-Pollbooks, remote device management, cloud service administration, and GPS monitoring. Security protocols include GPS tracking of all ballot boxes in real time using GPS, a true innovation in California elections. The successful implementation of these technologies allows the county to protect its election infrastructure, providing a safe and secure voting environment. 

Best Practices in Recruiting, Retaining, and Training Poll Workers 

Douglas County Office of Clerk and Recorder, CO - Election Judge Online Training Program 

Douglas County Elections developed an online video training program to enhance the recruitment, instruction, and retention of election judges. This program provides clarity and consistency in messaging and applies adult learning theory to video production techniques. Each video covers a topic critical to conducting elections, providing an online training experience that is self-paced and user-friendly. The office’s team produced nine short videos for Voting Service and Polling Center (VSPC) election judges on the Canvas learning platform. When asked, "Overall, how would you rate this training?", almost 90 percent of the election judges answered "good" or "excellent". When asked what they like about the training, the overwhelmingly positive responses include, "I like the informal/comfortable setting at home", "I like that it can be broken into different sessions and that I did not have to view it all at once", "The videos were logical, easy to follow, and there were plenty of visual aids." The online training program is proving to be very successful in instructing and retaining skilled election judges. Douglas County Elections is producing even more videos this year to cover additional election judge roles and duties, election judge recruitment, and onboarding of judges as temporary county staff. 

Michigan Secretary of State – Democracy MVP 

Michigan's Democracy MVP election worker recruitment program, created by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in 2020, has enlisted more than 40,000 participants interested in serving in local and statewide elections. Throughout 2021, Democracy MVP recruited thousands of election workers while combating misinformation and galvanizing public confidence in election security. Evaluation of and improvements to Democracy MVP, implemented throughout 2021, have ensured a sustainable statewide election worker recruitment initiative will exist at the department for years to come. 

Improving Accessibility for Voters with Disabilities

Canton Township Clerk's Office, Canton Township, Michigan ‐Data Driven Election Program 

Canton Township has proposed a data-driven election research program wherein volunteers will conduct exit polls at voting centers. The volunteers will administer a survey to participants, using tablets, mobile devices, or laptops to collect general information about the voter’s experience. The clerk's office will then quantify data regarding election wait times, accessibility, language accommodations, and other metrics to drive further innovation. A link will be distributed via social media so that voters can also relay their experience with mail voting. The findings will be summarized in a public report. A draft of the survey can be viewed here.  

Santa Clara County, Registrar of Voters Office (CA) - ADA Accessibility 

Santa Clara County implemented yearly ADA surveys and, using Visio, produced floor plans for voting sites to ensure officials considered accessibility during set-up. The layouts were also used by county staff to determine which outlets were most used, how equipment should be positioned, and where mats should be placed to ensure cords do not create barriers. In addition, the office created aerial views of vote center facilities to identify ADA parking and sign placement for voters with disabilities. 

Outstanding Use of HAVA Grants in Elections Modernization  

Indiana Secretary of State - Indiana Voting System Technical Oversight Program at Ball State University 

Recognizing the need for dedicated and sophisticated technical support to meet HAVA requirements and aspirations, the Secretary’s Office collaborated with Ball State University and the Bowen Center for Public Affairs to charter the Voting System Technical Oversight Program (VSTOP). Over the past decade, VSTOP has provided invaluable assistance to the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State, Indiana Election Commission, Indiana Election Division, local election officials and administrators, and industry vendors and stakeholders. In recent years, with the support of HAVA funding, VSTOP offered numerous programs including equipment certifications, post-election audits, voter-verifiable paper trail programs, inventory databases, voting system anomaly reporting, and various academic and industry stakeholder conferences. Using of HAVA funds for university-based election administration support initiatives such as VSTOP has proven to be a wise and productive investment in election administration support, modernization, and integrity. 

Michigan Bureau of Elections - County Commission District Reapportionment Tool  

The Michigan Bureau of Elections (BOE) developed a County Commission District (CCD) Reapportionment Tool in 2021 to assist county commissions in redrawing of districts. Using HAVA Election Security Funding, the tool was developed to streamline the process of creating and reporting updated districts. Over 90% of Michigan counties utilized the CCD Tool to draw new district plans and submit final district reports to the BOE. The production of this new application helped to ensure increased efficiency, accuracy, and transparency in the county reapportionment process and ensured Michigan voters would see on-time district updates, despite the census delay. 

Rhode Island Secretary of State - Voter Registration System - Mail Ballot Module  

Rhode Island's previous mail ballot system was so antiquated and labor intensive that cities and towns had issues processing mail ballot applications for the 2020 Presidential Primary. The process included data entry, creating certification sheets, obtaining board signatures, and hand-delivering applications to the Board of Elections. Processing 50 applications took 1.5-2 hours. With over 4 times the amount of mail ballot applications ever received for the presidential primary, the cities/towns were concerned about processing the expected increase for the November 2020 election. 

By utilizing Help America Vote Act funds, the office designed the process to scan mail ballot applications into the voter registration system. The scanned applications generated a mail ballot record in the system using the unique barcode on the application. It cropped the signature from the mail ballot application and placed it on the screen next to the voter's signature on file with the city/town. The city/town compared voter signatures (listed 20-at-a-time, side by side on their screen) and determined if they matched. If the signatures matched, the city/town approved the ballot, creating a record and preparing the ballot to be sent. If the signature was rejected, a notice was sent to the voter advising them of the issue.   

Outstanding Election Association Program 

Arizona Secretary of State - Election Officer Certification and Training Program 

The Arizona Election Officer Certification and Training Program was established over twenty years ago as an innovative approach to equip election officials with the knowledge and skills to administer safe, secure, and accurate elections. Administered by the Arizona secretary of state's office, the program provides for robust instruction in the technical, legal, and administrative aspects of conducting elections in Arizona. The program is offered at no cost to those who perform the duties of an election officer in or on behalf of any county. Graduates of the program receive a two-year certification as an election officer for the state of Arizona.  

Original and Creative “I Voted” Stickers 

City and County of Philadelphia Board of Elections (PA) 

The Board of Elections office held a citywide contest to design a new "I Voted" sticker. 

St. Louis County Board of Elections (MO) 

When is an “I Voted” sticker contest more than just, well, a sticker contest?  When it builds partnerships, engages diverse constituents, enhances voting awareness, uses innovative technology, and morphs into a new social media campaign to promote voter engagement. This inaugural contest in St. Louis County, Missouri helped push the Board of Elections' own creativity and imagination, take public outreach to a new level, and integrate its technology and election best practices into the design of the contest.  And it was fun. Partnering with St. Louis County Library, Missouri's busiest public library, enhanced promotional opportunities and constituent accessibility through use of its online portal and all twenty branch libraries.  Response to the contest exceeded expectations with more than 200 entries and 7,000 public votes. The contest resulted in three new “I Voted” stickers for 2022, a bonus sticker for absentee voters, and a new social media campaign featuring the stickers targeted to voters under the age of 35. Data analytics and lessons learned from the contest will inform communication and improve outreach in the future.