Five cities join forces to automate and streamline the election judge hiring process.
City of Burnsville
A thought of “what if” sparked Burnsville Deputy City Clerk Megan Hamilton’s mind when she learned about a new feature in the City’s digital record-keeping program, Laserfiche. The software allowed for a paperless workflow to track forms, applications and testing online. “What if,” she thought, this could help simplify the cumbersome, paper-heavy process of assembling and training 250 to 350 election judges needed for Burnsville’s 17 voting precincts each election cycle?
With collaboration and automation, the Election Dashboard project created a solution to a decades-old problem for cities. Every election cycle, municipalities across Minnesota face the challenging, time-consuming process of recruiting, hiring, managing, training and corresponding with hundreds of poll workers (i.e. election judges), all within a few months of tight deadlines. In early 2018, the City of Burnsville’s City Clerk’s office invited other clerks from the south metro area to brainstorm a potential “shared solution” to simplify and automate this difficult recruiting and management process. The cities had limited funds available, but a collaboration enabled them to share expertise and costs. The cities were also able to save on the expense of purchasing outside software by utilizing Laserfiche – a document management software the cities already owned. The goal was to have an affordable, working prototype by mid-June, in time for the 2018 elections.
Working quickly with software vendor OPG-3, five cities – Apple Valley, Burnsville, Farmington, Northfield, and Shakopee – created a functioning system in just 2.5 months at a cost of only $8,029 per city ($40,145 total) plus staff time. The City of Burnsville took on the task of testing and utilizing the system for the 2018 elections.
The “Election Dashboard” in Laserfiche is customizable for each city, consolidates the election judge hiring process, provides electronic workflows that automate applications and correspondence, manages data, schedules training and helps assign election judges to precincts. It makes the process more efficient for staff and accessible to residents. It aids the democratic process, conserves city resources, and can be repeatedly used and customized as needed by each city. The Dashboard also improved city services with a built-in correspondence piece that enables the clerk’s office to quickly email groups of judges at once, providing swift updates about polling sites and election equipment, precinct assignments, and training reminders.
The new system has increased staff efficiency while leveraging the Laserfiche software each city in the collaboration already owned. To purchase similar software would have cost at least $10,000 per year per city, plus the cost of staff time for training and implementation. Burnsville City Clerk staff estimate the entire election judge hiring and training process took approximately 240 hours over several months using the old method. Staff say they are seeing that time almost be cut in half with the new system, leading to huge cost savings for future elections.
About GTS Educational Events
If you are a nonprofit or public sector group looking to create a conference, workshop or educational event with impact, look to GTS. We believe educational events are successful when participants learn and grow and then return to their organizations and communities to make them stronger. We look forward to continuing our work with the broad spectrum of organizations striving to make a difference for the people and communities they serve.
Alex Hepp, City of Hopkins
Bill Bleckwehl, Cisco
Dave Andrews, DEED
Jay Wyant, Minnesota IT Services
Jim Hall, Ramsey County
Matt Bailey, IBM
Melissa Reeder, League of Minnesota Cities
Nathan Beran, City of New Ulm
Sue Wallace, IT Futures Foundation
Lisa Meredith, Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative
Justin Kaufman, Minnesota IT Services
Renee Heinbuch, Washington County/MNCITLA
Jerine Rosato, Ramsey County
David Berthiaume, Minnesota IT Services
Cory Tramm, Sourcewell Tech
Tomas Alvarez, Federal Reserve
Tom Ammons, MN.IT – Central
Dave Andrews, MN State Services for the Blind
Susan Bousquet, MN.IT – DOT
Robert Granvin, Metro State
Alex Hepp, City of Hopkins
Shawntan Howell, Ramsey County
Jenny Johnson, Metropolitan Council
Millicent Kasal, MN.IT – Central
Ping Li, MN.IT – MMB
Chibuzor Nnaji, MN.IT – DHS
Mehrdad Shabestari, MN.IT – Central