By Mario Conde
The County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of a Vote by Mail sorting system to count absentee ballots faster on Election Day.
Registrar of voters Sylvia Bermudez said that ever since she took over the responsibilities of the office, she has look for innovative and proven ways in which to improve the efficiency of the office, while continuing to improve the voting experience for the voters of Imperial County. Bermudez said that after evaluating the current procedures for processing mail ballots, she determined that a tremendous amount of staff time was spent sorting, opening and verifying all mail ballots rather than on critical duties during an election.
The Elections Department will purchase Criterion Elevate Vote by Mail (VBM) sorting system has many benefits such as, faster time to completion of ballot processing, minimizing of staff time, detailed logs for all processed ballots, precinct sorting and real time signature verification. In addition, the system has thickness detection, which is capable of detecting double ballots in a single envelope and most importantly the system will result in early identification of exceptions, enabling staff to contact the voters and take action earlier than before.
In researching how to resolve this issue, she asked for the Board to invest in a vote by mail sorting system, which simplifies the vote by mail process.
“These sorting systems have proven to minimize the amount of staff and time, while streamlining the mail ballot process. In addition, such system will enable my department to get to the tabulation process much faster than before.” Bermudez said.
Imperial County has approximately 53,741 registered voters, of which 18,268 are permanent vote by mail voters. In an effort to encourage more people to vote, Bermudez said, they are focusing on the convenience of voting by mail and anticipate a significant increase in the number of permanent mail voters in the coming years.
“It is imperative that we being preparing today for an increase to mail ballots and the processing of these ballots in a timely manner. Doing so will not only benefit the department but more importantly the voters we serve.” She said.