Since, 2014 we have been working with counties to help them realize the benefits of vote-by-mail (VBM). Our team has in-depth knowledge of all facets of the VBM process on both the county and vendor side. There are important decisions to be made when implementing vote-by-mail and ElectionIQ can help guide you through that process.
Flip through the tabs below to learn about our process. Also, make sure to visit our FAQ section to get answers to some of the questions we get the most regarding vote-by-mail.
At the beginning of the by-mail process we sit down with you to walk through every step of the process. We make sure you are well educated on a variety of topics and equip you to answer questions the public or others might ask.
A variety of decisions need to be made as to how ballots are to be handled, processed, mailed, and then received by the county. We work with you to make these decisions and advise you as needed. By the end of the process we have a roadmap for you and a set of mutual expectations for both parties.
Some of the topics we cover during this time are:
- maximizing postage efficiency
- ensuring you have the most economical postage rates
- timeline for daily/weekly ballot request files to be sent to us
- timeline for ballot requests to be filled by ElectionIQ
- ballot package design
- ballot package approval by USPS mail design team
- ballot package inserts (instruction letters, etc)
- audit process
- absentee ballot tracking capabilities/needs
After all initial setup setups are complete we move from preparation to operations. Once a ballot request file (export from voter registration system) is received by ElectionIQ we use a number of programs and, in some cases, custom-designed software applications to process your data. We continually revise this process to ensure it’s efficiency to enable us to process data as quickly as possible.
Step 1) Parse out data (hide or delete any data that isn’t needed for our purposes)
Step 2) Covert data to a common format for our systems to use
Step 3) Run postal sort of data
Step 4) Build PDF of ballots in postal sort order
Step 5) Add variable data to ballots if needed (stub numbers, absentee application numbers, etc)
Prior to sending ballot files to print we proof and Q/A all data and pdfs to ensure they are correctly laid out, formatted and ordered. We also proof hard copies to ensure all presses are properly calibrated.
Once our staff has proofed the data and print quality your files are sent to the presses to print. Ballots are randomly selected for quality assurance testing. Our exact QA process depends on each voting system manufacturer and their requirements. Generally ballots are first checked on a light table to ensure front-to-back registration is correct, as well as checking for hickies or other imperfections in the paper. Next we will use a mylar overlay provided by the manufacturer to measure compliance with the manufacturer’s tolerances.
In the event any ballot doesn’t pass our quality assurance measures, additional ballot from that batch are taken for testing. Based on those results we may keep printing, replacing only the one or two bad ballots, or we may stop the press to investigate further and reprint the entire suspect batch. Our goal is always to have the highest quality ballots possible.
Finally, after all ballots are printed, they are boxed, labelled, and transferred from our print facility to our mail facility. There they will be prepped, processed, and mailed.
Upon arrival at our mailing facility the staff checks in the ballots. From there they are taken to the folding machines, where they are folded to the appropriate size for the envelopes being used.
Next they are loaded, along with the envelopes and any inserts, into our insertion machines. Our team then proceeds to insert the ballots and inserts into the envelopes. At ElectionIQ, our mail facility is equipped with the latest in camera matching technology to ensure that the correct ballot and corresponding envelopes are put together. In the event the system detects a mismatch, an operator is summoned to assess the situation and resolve the issue.
The last step in our process is to package the ballots in mail trays, create a postage statement, file the statement with the USPS and transfer the ballots to the USPS. Trucks come twice a day to our facility (11AM and 2PM) to pick up mail. If necessary we can also take mail to the Post Office up until 5pm.