FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, February 14, 2019
U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s Annual “Clearie” Awards Recognize Outstanding Innovations in Elections, and Best Practices in Accessibility and Recruiting, Training and Retaining Election Workers
Silver Spring, Md. – The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) today announced that the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office was the recipient of a 2018 “Clearie” Award for Outstanding Innovations in Elections. The Secretary of State’s Office received the award for its implementation of a new electronic ballot software system which allowed blind or visually impaired voters to independently cast an absentee ballot. Born of the EAC’s mandate to serve as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration, the annual “Clearie” awards recognize best practices in election administration and highlight exemplary models which can serve as examples to other officials and jurisdictions.
“Election officials are some of the greatest civic leaders our nation has to offer,” said EAC Chairman Thomas Hicks. “They are the stewards of the bedrock of our democracy, who often implement innovative solutions with limited budgets and zero margin for error. The annual Clearie awards give the EAC an opportunity to recognize their vital contributions on a national stage and highlight best practices within the field of election administration. Each recipient of this award represents the very best of what it means to be an election administrator. We at the EAC applaud them for their dedication, and hope their work can serve as an example to others.”
New Mexico’s electronic ballot system allows blind and visually impaired voters to independently mark, print, and mail a hard copy of their ballot back to the county clerk for processing. The system, launched in the spring of 2018, just prior to the June primary election, was used by dozens of voters during its inaugural election and was extremely well-received by the voters it was intended to serve. Implementation efforts for the new system took four years to complete, during which time New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s office collaborated with both the National Federation of the Blind – New Mexico and the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. These close relationships have created a more accessible election process across the state and will continue moving forward.
Now in its third year, the “Clearie” awards recognize the innovative efforts of election officials across America. Entries were judged based on each initiative’s efficacy, innovation, sustainability, outreach efforts, cost-effectiveness and replicability.
This year’s Clearie awards are dedicated to the life and legacy of Wendy Noren and R. Brian Lewis. Wendy Noren served as Boone County Clerk for over three decades and was a member of the EAC’s Board of Advisors before passing away in March 2018 following a long battle with cancer. R. Brian Lewis served as Counsel to the Office of the Senate Majority Leader and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee before his passing, and was an early and steadfast proponent of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and election officials. Both were luminaries in the field of election administration who will long be remembered for their hard work, integrity and friendship.
For more information about the “Clearies” or to speak with Chairman Hicks, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-897-9285.
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The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). It is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with ensuring secure, accurate and accessible elections by developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems, as well as administers the use of HAVA funds. For more information, visit www.eac.gov.