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2023 Clearie Honorable Mentions Awardees

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The EAC would also like to recognize the following jurisdictions for 2023 Clearie Honorable Mention awards.

Outstanding Use of HAVA Grants in Election Modernization

Gloucester County Office of Elections, New Jersey - AIM/Ready Board 

Modern elections mean securing a growing inventory of hardware for Election Day, from voting machines to poll books to thumb drives. Using a new visual display and logistics tracking software from Tenex Software Solutions, the Gloucester County Superintendent of Elections scanned more than 2,000 items of election technology during the receiving process on Election Night. After polls close at 8 p.m., the office combined RFID barcode scanning with Tenex's tracking software and visual Ready Board, empowering the elections team to efficiently receive, scan, and secure all voting equipment by 10:30 p.m. This process saved more than two hours during the end-of-night processes. This also gave higher-level administrative staff a quick and easy, color-coded method of identifying where equipment was still outstanding. Gloucester's Ready Board high-level monitoring system is innovative and allows administrators to quickly and accurately review location information and status, streamlining the receiving process and focusing warehouse communications.   


Distinguished Voter Education and Communications Initiatives

Large Jurisdictions

Office of the Denver Clerk and Recorder, Colorado - Voter Registration cards 

Throughout the year, the Office of the Denver Clerk and Recorder community engagement team attends dozens of community events, with hundreds or thousands of people attending each event. The office realized that it needed something easy to handout that could ask people to register to vote, update their registration, and track their ballots. Previously, the office relied on three different flyers that were more expensive to produce, translate, and print. The Denver Clerk and Recorder staff created The "VR business card" that has three simple messages: "Register or update your registration," "Track your ballot," and "Get information on upcoming elections." It has an easy website to remember, a logo, and a QR code for people who do not want to take the card but are interested in the information. These are simple to update, cheap to print, and easy to hand out. The "VR business card" is available in English, Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Burmese, and Arabic.  

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Florida - The Election Experience Tour

 Since 2019, the Palm Beach County (PBC) Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE) has held annual public and private tours of the Voting Equipment Center to increase transparency and voter education. The program, called the “Elections Experience Tour,” gives participants a step-by-step guided tour and an in-depth overview of the voting process in the county. In 2023, the SOE held four public tours guided by the Supervisor of Elections, Wendy Link. Participants went behind the scenes at nine learning stations supported by SOE staff, including “Ballot Creation,” “Ballot Inserting and Mailing,” “Receiving Incoming Ballots,” “Signature Verification,” “Ready for Opening,” “Opening,” “Tabulation,” “Canvassing,” and “Polling Location.” Since its inception, over 1,000 people have gone through this tour, most of whom never had first-hand involvement with the facility, machines, and extraordinary amount of detail and planning that goes into elections. The Elections Experience Tour video series is also available on the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections website.  

Small/Medium Jurisdictions

Durham County Board of Elections, North Carolina - NC Voter ID Educational Campaign 

The implementation of photo identification in North Carolina was a significant change for election administrators and voters. After a 2023 court decision that required photo identification for voters beginning with the 2023 Municipal Elections, the board began strategizing on creative ways to educate the public and precinct officials on this new requirement. The Durham County Board of Elections developed a plan to create a comprehensive educational video, collaborate with the State Board of Elections to convert the video for use in statewide educational campaigns, and release a concise guide for precinct officials to ensure compliant application of the law when interacting with voters. These plans culminated in a campaign that produced over 28,000 views of the created content a robust guide to assist individuals required to execute the law on the frontlines. 

St. Joseph County Elections and Voter Registration Office, Indiana - Elections 101 Workshop 

Anticipating a high-spirited election cycle in 2024, the St. Joseph County Elections and Voter Registration Office identified a lack of easily accessible information regarding elections. The goal was to increase transparency regarding the election process. The Elections 101 Workshop was created in 2023 to inform and engage community members in the basics of elections. Intentionally designed to be hands-on and user-friendly, this workshop is hosted by a team of bipartisan election administrators. Following a brief introduction of staff and workshop format, participants are self-directed to stations that provide information on voter registration, absentee voting, the election workforce, and a mock election using the vote machines. The one-hour workshop provides participants with accurate, information from a trusted source with ample time for small group discussion. After counting the votes, Penelope Pig, Leon Llama, Rocky Raccoon, or Samuel Sloth are declared winners in the mock election. Available take-home materials include informational handouts, forms, applications, and a glossary of election terms. Hosted at the St. Joseph County Public libraries, the events are community based, welcoming, fun and barrier free.  

Utah County Clerk - Elections Division, Utah - Improved Voting Instructions Guide 

The Utah County Clerk’s office revamped its voting instructions guide, which is included with its ballots. The new guide not only looks sleek, but it also includes more explicit instructions on how to vote. For example, the new guide brings greater attention to how voters with disabilities can vote, emphasizes the four ways in which ballots can be returned, adds information about important election dates, includes a website and QR code for how voters can track their ballots, and shares information about following the Utah County Clerk’s office on social media. In addition, the office made overall improvements to the language used in the guide. Following an update to Utah absentee ballot law, The new instructions also recommend that ballots mailed the day before the election be postmarked at the post office's counter. 


Improving Accessibility For Voters With Disabilities

El Paso County Elections Department, Texas - Braille Poll Pad 

Over the past eight years, the El Paso County Elections Department (EPCED) has made improving the voting experience for the disability community a priority. The department covers an ADA section in its poll worker training, but also trains their workers on how to offer the braille poll pad screen for the check-in device, specifically for voters with a visual impairment. In collaboration with El Paso Council of the Blind and a local vendor, the final product was created and implemented in 2016 to serve all early voting and Election Day sites in the county. Since its inception, voters and poll workers have expressed appreciation for the efforts EPCED has made to make polling places and voting machines accessible during each election. Currently, El Paso is the only county in Texas that has created and implemented this “one of a kind” braille screen. The idea to make the check-in process more accessible to visually impaired voters came from the Elections Administrator, Lisa Wise. 


Outstanding Innovations in Election Cybersecurity and Technology

Santa Fe County Clerk's Office, New Mexico - Project Bruno: Tabulator Security Program 

The Santa Fe County Clerk's Office has initiated a pilot Tabulator Security Program, demonstrating a commitment to safeguarding our elections against physical theft, unauthorized access, tampering, as well as unforeseen power surges and electrical disruptions. To safeguard tabulators left unattended at polling sites overnight during early voting and in the lead-up to Election Day, the Santa Fe County Clerk's Office implemented a series of robust security measures. First, the office affixed removable GPS trackers within the tabulators to detect any unauthorized movement, and incorporated accelerometers to monitor disturbances during overnight periods with an alert triggered using geo-fence technology. Furthermore, the office secured the tabulators to uninterruptible power supplies to extend battery life in case of power disruptions. Finally, to address potential power outages or circuit breaker incidents, the office installed specialized plugs equipped with notifications, providing timely alerts if power to the tabulator is interrupted. These measures demonstrate the office’s commitment to ensuring elections are secure and trustworthy. By staying ahead in cybersecurity, the Santa Fe County Clerk's Office sets a high standard for election administration, emphasizing transparency and accountability. The office plans to expand this program for the 2024 primary and general elections.  


Outstanding Innovations in Elections

Large Jurisdictions

Fairfax County Office of Elections, Virginia - Building an Interactive Poll Worker Portal Using No-Code Tools 

The Fairfax County Office of Elections has leveraged no-code technology to improve the ability to serve their 5,000 poll workers. By transitioning from vendor-specific software to a combination of no-code tools, the office created a user-friendly, interactive poll worker portal. This portal allows poll workers to submit availability, view precinct assignments, enroll in training, view tasks to complete, and many more highly customized functions, with ease and efficiency. The use of publicly available no-code tools not only saved costs but also offered the freedom to customize and expand features without needing specialized IT skills. This initiative has led to significant improvements in operations, reduced costs, and a more organized engagement with poll workers, providing a replicable model for other jurisdictions. 

Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, California - Improved VBM and BMD Ballot Tracking 

In 2020, LA County implemented the Voting Solutions for All People project. The Recorder's Office repurposed the Check-in-Center (CIC) program to provide 78 sites throughout the county to stand as collection sites for all ballots cast at vote centers. Each vote center, with its unique service area, is assigned to a specific CIC, which collects Ballot Transport Boxes (BTBs) and Ballot Security Envelopes (BSEs) from each vote center and transports them to the Tally Operation Center. BTBs contain voted Ballot Marking Device (BMD) ballots, damaged BMD ballots and the Official Ballot Statement. BSEs contain Vote-by-Mail (VBM) Envelopes, Conditional Voter Registration Envelopes, Provisional Envelopes, Paper Write-in Envelopes, Unsigned Ballot Statements returned by voters, and Signature Verification Statement returned by voters. Each BTB and BSE has a unique barcode label allowing for chain-of-custody. During prior election cycles, data collection revealed that tracking ballots were returned to a CIC without a label. In 2022, the CIC program implemented a replacement label to track unmarked BTBs and BSEs. The replacement label provided CIC and vote center staff the ability to write down the service area, CIC, and sequence number, which reduced the hours needed to track ballots accurately. 

Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, California - Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) IT Professional Training Program 

In May 2020, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) staff launched the Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) IT Professional Training Program to ensure the integrity of its voting system by cross-training each IT election role, Field Support Technician (FST) and Call Center Agent (CCA). FSTs/CCAs safeguard the election equipment. There were 12,000 device-related incidents reported for the March 2020 election, which were reduced by half for the 2022 gubernatorial recall election. This was due to RR/CC including computer-based training with modules, instructional videos, assessments, and updates to the in-person training to include hands-on labs and a testing simulation. This created a higher standard of qualified staff to address and resolve potential voting equipment issues. Additionally, training was reduced from a five-day class to a one-day (10-hour) class. Now training over 1,100 FSTs/CCAs takes eight days as opposed to several weeks. With this program in place, FSTs and CCAs can now resolve more issues on-site without escalation, reducing attrition, lowering costs, achieving better device resolutions, and improving the overall voter experience. 

Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office - Mississippi Post-Election Procedural Audit 

The Mississippi Secretary of State's Office has implemented post-election procedural audit procedures to audit the following four categories: 1) Procedures for testing of optical mark (“OMR”) equipment before counting ballots, including the ballots used for testing of OMR equipment; 2) Ballot accounting reports, seal logs, poll books, and receipt books; 3) Absentee ballots, absentee ballot applications, and absentee ballot envelopes, along with the list provided to the resolution board, to ensure appropriate processing and counting of absentee ballots; and 4) Affidavit ballots and affidavit ballot envelopes, including affidavit ballot receipt books to ensure compliance with appropriate processing and counting of ballots. This audit program allows the Secretary of State to audit county procedures for compliance with federal and state law to ensure that elections are being conducted properly and accurately, while identifying issues before they could possibly be called into question. The Secretary of State can also take lessons learned and best practices from each county and integrate these findings into trainings for other local election officials to improve elections across Mississippi. 

Small/Medium Jurisdictions

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, Florida - Efficient Accounting for Vote-By-Mail Returns 

To reconcile and maintain proper custody between offices and early voting sites, logging of returned vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots at the Secure Ballot Intake Stations (SBIS) had been done manually by handwriting or keyboard typing information on a log sheet. While the resources and training needed for this method were low, the time consumption was high. Sarasota County VBM department staff identified an automated solution using an existing bar code on the voter certificate that saved hours of work. By utilizing an Excel file that contained the barcode, the voter's name, ID number, and ballot style, a log form was created that presented this information in an easy-to-read format. When the barcode is scanned using a USB barcode reader, it populates the log sheet. Using the XLOOPUP function in Excel, the scanned barcode is referenced, which returns the information from the same row in the excel data sheet. This allows the user to scan one barcode and instantly populate the voter name, voter id number, and ballot style onto the log sheet. Time saved in staff work hours, along with improved methods of proofing, not only streamlined the process but also provided greater efficiency. 

Tazewell County Clerk & Recorder of Deeds Office, Illinois - Election Tabulation Facility 

The Tazewell County Clerk & Recorder of Deeds Office started an effort in 2019 to streamline the vote counting operations each Election Day with the goal of decreasing the time required to accurately count and report the results. The county had developed a reputation of being historically the last to report election results, routinely well past the 10 p.m. news. Part of the problem identified was the time required to drive the individual precinct results from locations on the southeastern and northeastern points of the county to the courthouse location on the western edge of the county. While this effort was organized by the Tazewell County Clerk & Recorder of Deeds, it was successful because of participation of the Tazewell County Emergency Management Agency and Tazewell County Maintenance Department to help with the transportation of ballots. This effort resulted in a reduction in the time required to accomplish this task. The average reporting time is now 9 p.m.—two hours less than the previous average.  


Best Practices in Recruiting, Retaining, and Training Poll Workers

City of Henderson Office of the City Clerk, Nevada - Polls, Peace, and Pups: Mental Health and Wellness in an Election Environment 

In 2022, the City of Henderson trained City Clerk employees as poll workers, and they staffed their vote center at City Hall for the 2022 general election. Due to the stress of the schedule coupled with inclement weather, many staff members became ill during or directly after the election. In 2023, the City Council called for a special election to fill a council vacancy. Having learned a lesson from 2022, the City Clerk's Office management enlisted the collaboration of the Mental Health & Wellness Program Manager to develop strategies that focused on maintaining the well-being of the staff. The Clerk's Office included a therapy dog, tap-out room, essential oil diffusers, and de-stressing techniques to help poll workers maintain their health and wellness throughout the election.  

Santa Fe County Clerk's Office, New Mexico - Mentorship, Feedback, and Debriefing for Election Workers  

The Santa Fe County Clerk's Office has taken several steps to improve the experience of election workers. Central to this goal is the implementation of a comprehensive debrief program, allowing election workers to directly communicate their feedback to staff and leadership. This open channel of communication enables the office to identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes effectively. These efforts have reduced the number of complaints from poll workers from over 100 to less than 25. Other institutional improvements include the utilization of real-time chats, leading to faster response times from staff. In addition to these efforts, the office launched a mentorship program for new presiding judges, allowing them to shadow more experienced counterparts. By actively listening to feedback and making necessary adjustments, the Clerk's Office has demonstrated success by continually improving the election worker experience after each election. 


Outstanding Election Official State Association Program

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Florida - Records Retention Program 

Election offices accumulate a lot of paper. Keeping it organized, accessible, and prepared for destruction at the appropriate time is critical. The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections team developed and implemented a Records Retention Program for non-digital records utilizing the SmartSheet application platform. This user-friendly Records Retention Dashboard contains department-specific retention log input forms, retention logs, chain of custody forms, and destruction reports. Each department is responsible for sorting, packing, and logging their records after every election and bi-annually for non-election related items to ensure records are maintained in compliance with the retention schedule. Customized menu options and standardized log entries ensure departments properly categorize their items. Retention schedules and destruction dates are auto calculated, and destruction processes are automatically initiated immediately following the destruction date to ensure timely and efficient processes that capitalizes on space usage and unnecessary record storage.  

Tazewell County Clerk & Recorder of Deeds Office, Illinois - Illinois Election Integrity Outreach Initiative 

The Tazewell County Clerk & Recorder of Deeds Office organized a series of media outreach events with a large contingent of other local election officials throughout Illinois concerning a strong commitment to election integrity and transparency heading into the 2024 presidential election. The office organized four media events in four different media outlet regions and generated continuous ongoing media coverage across multiple media formats. In total, 27 local bipartisan election officials, participated in this unprecedented statewide endeavor. 


Creative and Original “I Voted” Sticker Design

Charleston County Board of Voter Registration and Elections, South Carolina - 2023 "I Voted!" Sticker Design Contest 

In 2023, the Charleston County Board of Voter Registration and Elections (BVRE) launched its first-ever "I Voted!" Sticker Design Contest. The program was tremendously successful, garnering more than 100 eligible submissions and driving traffic to BVRE's social media pages. BVRE was able to bring these stickers to life during the early voting period for the 2023 municipal elections, further raising awareness of the program and the democratic process. The office is excited about the growth potential for the contest and has already received inquiries from local teachers about having their students participate in future iterations. The contest is easily replicable and allows the office to strengthen and create bonds with businesses, groups, and community members across Charleston County. The winning designs featured artistic renderings of iconic images throughout Charleston County, such as historic homes, the suspension bridge, and natural wildlife, each with the words “I Voted” included on the sticker.  

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office, Florida - The Vote Hillsborough Art Contest  

Voters love getting an "I Voted" sticker after they cast their ballot. Every election cycle, the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office sees many voters wearing their stickers from the moment they cast their ballot through the entire day, including memorializing the moment with a social media selfie. After giving out branded stickers for years, Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer decided to switch things up in 2022 by challenging Hillsborough County students to create and submit their own custom "I Voted" sticker designs. Then in 2023, Supervisor Latimer decided to broaden the every-other-year art contest and make it an annual event, including the first “Future Voter” sticker contest to help engage K - 8th grade students in democracy. The selected finalists included stickers with American flags, bald eagles, and a diverse representation of young people to signify future voters.