Montgomery, Anne Arundel honored for best election administration practices

Best practices in election administration doesn’t sound like a sexy topic, but recent national awards put two Maryland counties in the spotlight.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections recently won a “Clearie” award, and so did the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections.

The Clearinghouse Awards are given annually by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to recognize the accomplishments of elections officials across the nation.

The awards come after a tumultuous 2020 election season, one that will be long remembered.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections picked up recognition, winning the 2020 Clearinghouse Award for Outstanding Innovations in Elections for Large Jurisdictions.

The innovation for which the election board won involves SMS short codes to inform voters.

Translation: Montgomery County did well texting voters.

Here’s what the Election Assistance Commission had to say about Montgomery County:

SMS texting provided Montgomery County voters with reassuringly simple, straightforward, and time-sensitive information. The use of short codes allowed the office to provide information quickly by sending service-generated hyperlinks when voters needed it most. The program efficiently filled gaps in the availability of services and improved the administration of an existing county program. In addition, use of separate Spanish language short codes helped ease language barriers and build trust with Spanish-speaking voters across the County.”

Anne Arundel County received an award for Outstanding Innovations in Election Cybersecurity and Technology, specifically for its cybersecurity training modules for election judges.

The county collaborated with Towson University last year to develop the training that covered cybersecurity and the voting process.

“The training covered topics ranging from ballot marking devices to voting booths to provisional voting. Election judges in Anne Arundel County completed the training modules and took assessments to ensure the training developed cybersecurity skills. The program was harnessed by other counties across Maryland to further educate election workers on the importance of cybersecurity practices,” the Election Assistance Commission said.

The commission named the winners on March 4. See the full list of winners.

The D.C. Board of Elections received an honorable mention for its redesigned “I Voted” sticker that featured abolitionist Frederick Douglass to recognize his work fighting for voting rights for Black Americans in the mid-1800s.

Colleen Kelleher

Colleen Kelleher is an award-winning journalist who has been with WTOP since 1996. Kelleher joined WTOP as the afternoon radio writer and night and weekend editor and made the move to WTOP.com in 2001. Now she works early mornings as the site's Senior Digital Editor.

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