Every day, more and more voters in the U.S. are participating in elections via vote by mail.
In fact, in states such as California, more than 60 percent voted by mail in 2014, according to the state secretary’s website. And that number is growing across the country.
Take Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, for example.
The city is getting ready for its first election scheduled to be conducted by mail.
And while this process may improve services for voters, it creates a problem for election administrators looking to efficiently manage their workload. There are numerous steps involved in processing a mail ballot accurately, which can often slow down the processing time and speed, while increasing personnel and man hours.
That is why the city started looking for a solution that combined multiple steps into a “single-pass” processing system. Additionally, this solution would need to automate all the steps and reduce the processing time of ballots.
After conducting an extensive search, city officials found a company to implement an automated system that would help transform the process. And by doing so, the county reduced its workload in staff time processing vote by mail ballots. Additionally, officials wanted to increase turnout in local elections, which has between just a third and a quarter of eligible voters in recent years.
Bell and Howell engineers install the Criterion® Elevate in Anchorage, Alaska (courtesy photo).
By purchasing Bell and Howell’s Criterion® Elevate, voters can now receive their ballots 21 days before an election. Once ballots are turned in, either by mail or in giant metal boxes distributed across town, the system starts comparing signatures with those on record, all while sorting valid ballots and tabulating votes.
Voting by mail continues to gain in popularity across the U.S., in particular, the western states. Oregon and Washington are a 100 percent vote by mail and all registered voters in Colorado get a vote by mail ballot. Meanwhile, other states nationwide are making it easier to use this voting method, and each year sees a greater percentage of voters switching to vote by mail.
Here's a cool video on the company's Criterion® Elevate, a sorting system that meets the high-speed mail processing needs of organizations with strict space limitations. The Elevate is ideal for processing vote by mail envelopes and mail ballots at rates up to 18,000 per hour.