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Imagine Counting Mail-In Ballots Manually…

October 26, 2020

Blog Cover Electionz | ABBYY Blog Post

The Coronavirus pandemic quickly confirmed that Digital Intelligence is a must-have tool to drive successful digital transformation across industries. When Covid-19 presented significant challenges for businesses, early adopters were ready to pivot and adapt.

Automation is important, but it is not enough to rescue business operations in worst-case scenarios. Flexible technology that delivers full visibility into processes and generates reliable outcomes is a non-negotiable.

The challenges of the last few months have revealed that every sector – public and private – needs this technology. There is no longer a question of pushing this off, only now leaders are asking how quickly it can be implemented.

Digital Intelligence for Voter Ballot Processing

Many governments are focused on how safety measures impact long-standing voting processes. According to Pew Research, mail-in voting has seen a rise over the years, though it varies by state and region.

Processing mail-in voter ballots is time-consuming and demands reliable compliance safeguards, unquestionable accuracy, and a quick turn-around time for processing ballots. is New Zealand’s leading election services provider. In 2019, they deployed ABBYY’s Digital Intelligence technology to automate mail-in voter-ballot processing for the Christchurch local elections.

This was no small feat. Voter ballots are complex. They are usually double-sided and may present multiple categories for voters to select their choice. came to ABBYY with several challenges that had to be addressed

  • The solution had to offer the most accurate and flexible technology in order to ensure extreme precision for critical outcomes that depend upon it.
  • Their existing data capture technology did the job but periodically created blocks that slowed down the process.
  • They needed a solution that integrated with an Oracle-based Election Management System.
  • People might change their minds when filling out a ballot, make a stray mark on the ballot sheet, or make no marks at all. The solution had to capture the most minute data on double-sided pages with the highest level of accuracy.

Processing mail-in voter ballots

The solution had to support customized business rules that route documents through double verification.

  • Solution architecture had to scale to support a vast array of input. received as many as 400k papers in one day alone.
  • Ballots are usually processed within a limited time frame, so while accurate outcomes are a first priority, a close second is speed.

Another challenge they presented was on-site support. This was a must for a secure vote processing environment with no network connections available to meet stringent security requirements. In the high-pressure world of mail-in voter ballot processing, they had to safeguard against unforeseen circumstances that might slow down the processing and timing of election results.

A comprehensive solution

ABBYY’s Digital Intelligence platform powers Content and Process Intelligence. Content Intelligence makes sense of structured and unstructured data through intelligent document processing by applying advanced Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing to automate, improve accuracy, and accelerate ballot processing.

The platform integrates document processing capabilities with existing Election Management Systems to create a seamlessly automated process that captures voter ballot selections with complete accuracy and speed. Ballots pass into multiple stages and operate based on created rules and verification to ensure all marks on the voter ballots are identified and accurately accounted for, and appropriately coordinate with the Quality Assurance team.

The ability to apply business rules is a game changer for processes that are time-consuming, data-sensitive, and outcome centric.automate ballot processing

The value-add

  • Scalable architecture. 676,000 voting papers (color, A3 duplex) were processed within a three-week voting period. As much as 94,000 voter applications, or approximately 400,000 documents, were processed in one day. 
    Explicit attention to detail that all votes were counted with no interruption to the service.
  • Double verification. ABBYY technology allows for multiple verifications with extreme precision so that outcomes align with the strictest verification standards.
  • Agile and accurate. ABBYY Content Intelligence transformed the entire process to deliver timely, fail-safe outcomes, a crucial element for deadline-driven elections.

Sustainable outcomes sees ongoing benefits from ABBYY. It has the capacity to accommodate more volume and take on more clients without adding more time in the office. Instead of working overtime during election season, staff get to go home earlier because the ABBYY document processing solution works for and with them. And in a world where change is a constant, the company is ready for the most unpredictable scenarios.

Learn how Digital Intelligence can work for you.

Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) Intelligent Automation Government

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