ABSENTEE AND MAIL-IN BALLOT OPENING
Growth in Vote-by-Mail & Absentee Ballots
Voting-by-mail turnout has grown steadily over the past few decades, but exploded in 2020 out of necessity. In 2020, mail-in ballots accounted for 46% of all votes cast in the general election, totaling 65 million ballots, doubling the number of mail-in ballots cast in 2016. But mail-in voting isn’t going away because of the convenience it offers. According to a recent survey, 60% of voters during the 2020 election said they were likely to vote-by-mail again.
Mail-In Voting is the New Norm
Post-pandemic, mail-in voting has seemingly become the new norm for American elections. Used as an alternative for in-person voting to protect health and safety during the pandemic, mail-in voting is now a secure, convenient, and fast way for more people to vote. Over 18% of all registered US voters now receive a ballot in the mail for every election. Many states have already been using a mail-in voting system, including Oregon, which was the first state to implement a vote-by-mail only system, and Colorado, which provides all registered voters with a mail-in ballot or the option to vote in-person. But mail-in voting doesn’t come without its challenges, especially for elections officials.
Not Enough Labor, Not Enough Time
Mail-in voting makes the voting process easier, allowing voters to take their time, research candidates, and vote at their convenience. However, the surge of ballots elections centers receive is often overwhelming, sometimes requiring hundreds of employees with only a short window of time to count tens or hundreds of thousands of ballots before an election. Before ballots are counted, they undergo a series of security measures, including signature matching and checks for tampering. Each ballot contains two envelopes, the outer return envelope and the inner envelope that protects the ballot, doubling the number of envelopes that need to be opened, often by hand.
Many elections centers handle ballots with temporary staff or volunteers who open ballots with a letter opener or razor blade. Often there are too many ballots, not enough labor, and not enough time to process hundreds of thousands of ballots before an election, forcing counties to work long-hours with little rest.
ACCELERATE THROUGHPUT AND COUNT BALLOTS ON TIME WITH THE OPEX® MODEL 72™
Meet your deadlines and say goodbye to those 16-hour days. Accelerate your throughput without relying on manual labor to get the job done with the OPEX® Model 72™ automated ballot extractor. With as few as one operator per system, the Model 72 opens envelopes at rates of up to 3,600 envelopes per hour, making it a cost-effective solution for elections centers. Reduce your labor needs for ballot opening and allow staff to focus on the parts of your operation that need it most.
Specialized milling cutting technology and an adjustable cut-depth quickly and accurately open envelopes, protecting the ballot from being damaged. Load the mail directly onto the machine for automatic opening. The Model 72 presents the contents to the operator at an angle for easy removal, then moves the emptied envelope into the disposal bin. Protect your voters’ identity with the ability to open mail and remove ballots with sensitive information facing away from the operator. Prevent ballots from being accidentally lost or thrown out with technology that tracks the number of envelopes being opened, notifying the operator of when an envelope is fully emptied.
REDUCE YOUR RELIANCE ON LABOR WITH OPEX® OMATION® ENVELOPE OPENERS
Make day-to-day operations easier for you and your staff. OPEX OMATION® automated envelope openers open ballots quickly and accurately, using specialized milling cutting technology that chips a minimal amount off the cut-edges of each piece. Whether you’re a small or large county, there’s an OMATION system for you that fits your needs. Ideal for small operations that handle between 200 and 2,000 envelopes per day, the OMATION Series 210 and Series 410 are small and compact systems with the ability to quickly open and batch envelopes. For larger counties that handle over 40,000 ballots per day, the OMATION Model 306 high-volume mail opener is an effective solution for accurate, high-speed ballot opening.