2009 Stars and Stripes Award
Johnson County Election Office Wins National Award
Olathe, KS – Johnson County’s Election Office today received the Stars and Stripes Award for Outstanding Partnerships at the Election Center’s Annual National Conference in San Diego, California for the project “Reducing Lost Voters through Electronic Polling Place Lookup.”
“This award recognized outstanding partnerships and we developed many in 2008 to ensure voters reached their specific polling place,” noted Election Commissioner Brian Newby.
Johnson County was one of six winners among 43 entrants. Johnson County also received the Election Center’s Best Professional Practice Award in 2006 for podcasting and text messaging notifications.
With 285,001 (more than 78%) of Johnson County’s voters participating in last year’s presidential election, only 668 voted at an incorrect polling place, down from 4,267 in 2004.
“Voters can cast a provisional ballot if they aren’t at the correct polling place, but the ballot may not be customized for them, which means some votes in some races couldn’t be counted,” Newby said. “This outreach effort was geared to ensuring all votes were cast and recorded properly.”
Partners included the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, who approved an outreach budget submitted by the Election Office. An award-winning local public relations team from Whitworth-Ballou leveraged those dollars by soliciting business and industry sponsors as Democracy Partners. Student volunteers, celebrated as the Democracy Posse, took the “JoCoPoLo-Mobile” and fliers to venues throughout the county. Print media, television and radio provided news coverage and public service announcements.
The Johnson County Library featured an elections page on its website, including a YouTube video contest for students. Volunteers from other county departments staffed a “hot line” on Election Day to help election workers direct voters to the proper location.
A technical solution was VOTEKS, believed to have been the first interactive short-code messaging application used for any government function (not just elections) in the country. Mobile users typed “VoteKS” and their address to a five-digit short code, and, within 60 seconds, a return message gave polling place information. The database also was used on a new website, www.jocopolo.com.
VOTEKS was a joint development of the Election Office and TextCaster, a Kansas City-area technology company that has become a leading provider of wireless text messaging systems serving clients in media, education, public safety and Non-Profit throughout the United States. Rob Sweeney, Founder & CEO of TextCaster, said “we are delighted to be a part of the success the Johnson County Election Office has experienced using the TextCaster application suite. Brian Newby and his team are exceptional at applying mobile innovation to their business.”
The Election Office administers all federal, state and local elections for some 350,000 voters in Johnson County, Kansas. This includes more than 1,900 elected positions in 540 voting districts. An election may contain up to 1,335 separate ballot styles.
Also known as the National Association of Election Officials, the Election Center is the professional association for city, county or state government individuals working in voter registration or elections administration. As the only national organization focusing exclusively on the programs, policies, and practices for the elections profession, the Election Center speaks for the profession and delivers what has been termed “the best value in elections or voter registration conferences.” A highlight of each annual conference is the presentation of professional practices that have been developed and used by member jurisdictions in the past year.
Last Updated: March 10, 2010 11:31 AM