Everything in elections is about accountability, with tremendous amounts of paper used to track the chains of custody for equipment leaving the building, delivering to a polling location, leaving a polling location and being returned to the Boards of Elections. Tracking the paper, machines, and people causes a lot of headaches and the potential to derail an election. Stark County, Ohio saw an opportunity to test RFID on election-specific equipment and turned to Grey Trunk RFID for help navigating the best option for them.
The Challenge - Ensuring Polling Sites Have Proper Equipment In A Timely & Efficient Manner
After Stark County's 126 polling places close on Election Day, voting equipment must be delivered quickly to the County's four drop-off locations and the Board of Elections warehouse. The drop-off locations collect several pieces of equipment (supply suitcases, TSX voting machines, banker’s boxes). The items being dropped off at the BOE include memory card packs, ballot boxes, and transfer cases filled with receipt rolls from the TSX machines.
Everything has to be manually checked because of the chain of custody requirement by the Ohio Secretary of State. Even though the manual checks can correct any issues, like the most common misplaced memory card, there is still room for human error.
In the past, the Board of Elections used a barcode system to inventory its equipment, but with the speed of election night and equipment moving so fast, employees were not using it for its best practice.
The scenario for this mistake would be a memory card still in a machine. If so, the BOE employees would have to:
A) find the machine in the pile of 1,400 other machines, and
B) work to remove the card and upload into the system.
The time required would cause the election results to be released well after midnight. This delay happened several times since moving to electronic touchscreen voting machines in 2005.
The Solution - Tracking Election Equipment Using RFID
While the Board of Elections opted for hand-held devices instead of stationary readers, many of the systems were too expensive for beginners and the software access costs for other suppliers was outrageous.
Grey Trunk was a perfect fit for the Board of Elections because of its affordability, ease of use and access to apps on phones or tablets. The reports are quickly sorted when exported helping workers know what equipment is allocated to each polling location and the time stamps for scanning and checking out and in allow for the potential to go paperless in an election cycle.
The app works perfectly for the check-in and out process, providing the best chance of catching missing or misplaced equipment when the voting officials pick up and drop off.
The Result - Better Management and Inventory of Board of Election Equipment & Assets
While the Board of Elections still is in the discovery phase for Grey Trunk and working toward finalizing the best practices, the May Primary went somewhat smoothly for demonstrations and the inventory and understanding of what assets the BOE has currently is the most significant benefit.
Before tags were applied, the IT department and warehouse personnel couldn't report an exact number of TSX machines, supply suitcases, ePollbooks, ballot boxes or memory cards. They also couldn't determine where a specific piece of equipment was in the warehouse.
The Board of Elections continues to personalize its Grey Trunk system and move items around to help assist the election logistics process even further. Once they streamline the abilities of the warehouse and RFID, the benefits will save the county thousands.
“Grey Trunks works!” said Jason Wise, Election Prep Coordinator. “By dialing in a location in the software, I know precisely how much equipment should be leaving and returning. To the other Boards of Elections, I would highly recommend this solution. Our industry doesn't have thousands of items moving around daily, so the ability to do inventory on a monthly, quarterly, or twice a year basis, is too easy,” Wise said.
To learn more about how Grey Trunk RFID can help you track your assets, go to https://greytrunkrfid.com or call 833-338-5243