Durham, NC - March 4, 2021 - Earlier today, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) announced its 2020 Clearinghouse Awards winners. Among recipients of the national honor, also known as the “Clearie” Awards, is Durham County Board of Elections. The BOE secured the Clearie Award for Outstanding Innovations in Election for the department’s Early Voting Wait Time Tracker used in the 2020 Primary and General Elections.
The innovative ESRI tool, created to help voters locate sites closest to them, view voting information, view current site wait times, view bus routes, and get GPS directions through Google Maps, has two components: the wait time entry application that is added to each site cellphone and the website application where voters search for information using their address.
The results from using this application were extremely positive. For voters, the application streamlined their voting experience and made information they were looking for easily accessible beyond traditional fliers and advertisements. For election administrators, the application helped alleviate crowds at busy sites because voters went to nearby locations with reduced wait times, gave exposure to newly established sites that voters weren't used to voting at, and helped determine early voting staffing needs in real time.
According to Director of the Durham County Board of Elections Derek Bowens the support of County and City partners was key to developing the geographic information system tool highlighted in the Clearinghouse Award innovations application. “We want to thank City/County GIS, and particularly our GIS Analyst Kelly Doss, for working with us to customize this great tool offered by ESRI,” said Bowens. “This was an incredible implementation that significantly reduced early voting wait-times for our residents. We look forward to continuing to develop tools to ensure honest, fair, and accurate in elections in Durham County.”
According to the EAC a “record-breaking” number of award submissions were received this year. In addition to Durham County Board of Elections being an award recipient, Wake County Government and the State Board of Elections of North Carolina are also 2020 Clearie Award winners.
"The Durham County Board of Elections is honored to receive this prestigious national award. The innovative Early Voting Wait Time Tracker not only helped make the 2020 election safe and efficient for Durham residents, it has been recognized and adopted by other jurisdictions," said Chair of the Durham County Board of Elections Phil Lehman. The tracker helped thousands navigate the 2020 early voting process in Durham.
Established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), the EAC is charged with serving as a clearinghouse for election administration information. To further this mission, the EAC launched the Clearies in 2016 to promote best practices in elections and celebrate the accomplishments of election officials.
The award categories include innovation in election administration; improving accessibility for voters with disabilities; best practices in recruiting, training, and retaining poll workers; and creative and original “I Voted” sticker design. The EAC also announced a new category this year for innovation in election cybersecurity and technology.
Award entries are judged based on each initiative’s depiction of positive results, innovation, sustainability, outreach efforts, cost-effectiveness, and replicability. More information about each awardee is available on the EAC website.