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DTMB's Continuous Improvement team honored with 2021 NASCA award

When the voters of Michigan enacted major changes to how Michiganders register to vote in 2018, election officials and local clerks knew it would be a monumental task to make all the necessary adjustments before the next election cycle in 2020. The team from DTMB's Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI) was engaged to help operationalize the changes, and recently received national recognition for their efforts.

The OCI team was honored with a 2021 Innovation in State Government Award from the National Association of State Chief Administrators at their annual conference last month in Rochester, NY. Michigan was named the winner in the Transformation category for their work helping the Michigan Bureau of Elections carry out the constitutional amendment that changed how residents could register to vote and obtain absentee ballots a reality.

The challenges to the state were operationalizing a law into a new process, leveraging automation, and engaging stakeholders - all in less than six months. Michigan has one of the most decentralized election systems in the nation, and implementation was very dependent on engagement of over 1,600 county and local stakeholders. Compounding the challenge was the introduction of the Covid-19 pandemic which increased the number of absentee voters.

The project was accomplished through a combination of process changes, IT enhancements, and training resources for local election clerks. As a result of these efforts, local clerks were able to securely register over 60,000 voter applicants in the days leading up to the 2020 election. Before and on Election Day, clerks were also able to handle record voter turnout, with more than 5.5 million total ballots cast in Michigan. This included approximately 3.3 million absentee ballots, a 167% increase over previous years.

The work of the OCI Team, in collaboration with others from around the state, ultimately improved access for Michigan voters to safely cast their votes during the COVID-19 pandemic and in a process that provided ballot security and integrity.

NASCA Award for OCI 2021