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?
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.
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.