6 Ways Government Workflow Automation Streamlines Elections
By Troy Bare
One of the greatest and most important tests of the public sector? When they’re called upon to give the public its voice. It’s why more cities and states are turning to government workflow automation as a solution for streamlining the voting process this year.
Speed, security, and accuracy in handling and tallying any election’s votes is an enormous responsibility for electoral officials, and an enormous challenge, as well. That’s particularly true this year, as the 2018 midterm elections are expected to see record-shattering participation, including as many as 30 million early ballots that need to be processed.
Technology can, as we’ve seen, be used in negative ways to try to slant an election. Government workflow automation, however, is seen by many officials as the logical next step in devising a more accurate, timely, and orderly election process.
How Aspen got electorally automated
Aspen, Colorado, was faced with a tangle of manual data entry and outmoded automation solutions. By turning to a smarter platform that focused on data management, visibility into processes and workflows, analytics and up-to-date process automation, the city saved taxpayer dollars and poll workers’ time. While also reducing human error and improving auditability.
State law in Colorado allows new voters to register right up until Election Day. Plus, a voter can submit up to three successive ballots, each voiding the one before. To keep track of all this, poll workers had to wade through handwritten logs, later replaced by a spreadsheet, but still had to go through printed registration lists to verify if an in-person voter was at the right polling center.
Each new voter had to visit their country clerk’s office to obtain a printed certificate to bring to the polling place – where the poll workers had to validate each one by calling that country clerk. Moving between precincts or changing one’s name created equally convoluted issues for the voter, the poll worker, county clerks, and other administrators.
For Aspen, stepping up to a digitally transformational approach to polling has eliminated a host of headaches:
With a clear set of operational requirements in hand, Aspen officials found and implemented an information management solution that streamlined the entire voting process, starting with registration. Today, the city uses its solution to manage registered voters’ information and images of their signatures digitally. The city clerk can also run an automated workflow that parses the information and makes updates as necessary.
Six ways government workflow automation benefits elections
Aspen is just one community realizing the benefits. Let’s walk through the reasons why government workflow automation is being embraced as a solution for the challenges of carrying out an election.
1 • By cutting costs
Deploying government workflow automation as part of an election technology platform can potentially save money by cutting the labor costs involved. Automatic vote-counting is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how automation can benefit elections; there are dozens of other related tasks involved in putting on a vote, and the more manual they are, the more possibility there is of error or fraud.
Ideally, a SaaS automation solution can be used, which cuts back on any need for a dedicated hardware investment. Election-related workflows can be run on existing architectures, on mobile devices, and integrated with legacy systems.
2 • By accelerating electoral tasks
Election managers are expected to handle huge quantities of data under right time constraints, so automating these processes can accelerate them and add an extra degree of accuracy to the electoral equation. Only some of the tasks government workflow automation can help run faster and more efficiently?
- Election planning, management, budgeting, and recordkeeping
- Information delivery to parties, candidates, and voters
- Self-service 24/7 access to forms, poll location maps, and other key information
- Voter registration and creation of identification documents
- Voter authentification at polling places
- Centralized process monitoring and alerts
- Processing of mail-in and absentee ballots
- Dissemination of election results
Automating mundane and repetitive tasks also pays the dividend of improving employee morale, too.
3 • By speeding up results
Secure government workflow automation can expedite the speed at which precincts gather or report tallies, and route voting data to the proper parties for proper review and verification. Issues can be automatically flagged for attention by the right personnel.
4 • By reducing fraud
Automated vote counting and the use of machines for direct vote input is, of course, on the rise, and eliminates the opportunities for fraud associated with hand counts. By automating other processes, however, fraud can be reduced; automating authentication processes before people even step into a voting booth makes it easier to catch those who aren’t registered, are using another person’s I.D., are trying to cast multiple ballots, and so on.
5 • By improving public confidence and trust
Automation of electoral processes can, as it does in other applications of government workflow automation, create greater visibility and trust with the electorate. That, of course, depends on how securely and responsibly these systems are used. It’s up to election officials to make sure the implementation of any technology within the voting process is bulletproof.
6 • By demonstrating efficiency and responsibility
Any time you can save the taxpayer a dollar, it’s a good thing in the eyes of the voter, not to mention legislators and watchdog groups. Government workflow automation provides exactly that opportunity to make this critical part of the American experience more cost-effective, while also more trustworthy and convenient for everyone involved.