Technology Facilitating Early Voting Initiatives in New Jersey

For some of us, we have been able to skip the lines on Election Day through early voting initiatives. In a recent HP white paper, HP identifies that HP document management systems have been implemented in New Jersey to support vote-by-mail initiatives in the Garden State.

The report states, “When the state of New Jersey passed legislation-allowing citizens a one-time, lifetime application
for a General Election Vote-by-Mail ballot, the state’s Elections Division realized this would represent a significant change for county-level officials charged with running elections.” Michael DiSimoni, Deputy Director of Elections for New Jersey Department of State Elections states, “We immediately knew there would be a document retrieval issue because each voter’s ballot has to be compared each year to the original application,” he continues, “As time went on, retrieving that original application would become more and more cumbersome and problematic, and require more and more staff time.”

In New Jersey, vote by mail has become an extremely popular initiative. The report identifies that over 119,000 New Jersey voters have registered to vote by mail, and state officials are expecting increasing demand for the 2012 elections. In order to help meet increasing demands, the state worked with HP to design a custom document management system. Vote by mail requires collaboration across New Jersey’s 21 counties to manage voter information.

The report states, “The system leverages functionality from the state’s voter registration system, along with county-level infrastructure, so that each county can customize the storage and retrieval of records to meet its business processes and policies. The unifying goal: to provide simple access for elections officials to organize, manage, and retrieve electronic images of voter correspondence and vote by mail applications.”

The solution developed for New Jersey included custom application development, testing, and user training, physical infrastructure (scanners and servers) in each county, application management and support including network management, server management, and storage management services.

The report states, “At its core, the document management system works like most others. Documents are bar-coded to identify the document type, then scanned and indexed by voter registration number. Once a document is in the system, it can be retrieved by county election employees using one of four inquiry screens. During an election year, customized ballots are produced by each county. The county mails a ballot to each citizen registered in the Vote-by-Mail system. When the ballot is returned to the county election office, an employee retrieves the voter’s original VBM application, compares the signature with the new ballot, and verifies the signature.”

The report also touches on how the HP system is eliminating risks, improving voter service and extending capabilities to new needs. Michael DiSimoni states, “When a voter calls, there’s no need to put that person off for an hour or a day while someone looks up and retrieves their file. The county employee can look up the correspondence in seconds. ‘Yes, here’s your application; I see you applied in year X,’ and so on. That kind of responsiveness would have been difficult without this system.”

The report was an interesting read about how technology has helped to facilitate early voting and encourage American’s to express one of our most fundamental rights, our right to vote.

HP’s mission is to invent technologies and services that drive business value, create social benefit and improve the lives of customers — with a focus on affecting the greatest number of people possible. Check out their HP for Gov group on GovLoop as well as the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.

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