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Rolling out the electoral rolls

Rolling out the electoral rolls

Datamail’s handling of the electoral rolls involved scanning a potential two-and-a-half million images in seven days. The process was designed to increase efficiency surrounding the checking of apparent duplicate votes and to provide valuable information to the chief electoral office about where people prefer to vote. The innovation replaces a traditional process that employed more manual labour than leading edge technology and was predisposed to delays, prolonged uncertainty and negative publicity.

Datamail’s Nigel Grange says the company’s scanning capacity of more than 70 million pages a year makes it the only organisation in New Zealand able to process the required volume in such a tight time frame. “We won the tender to scan and intelligently recognise the marked electoral rolls, and subsequently provided professional services to completely redesign the way electoral rolls are processed.”

Grange says this year’s general election led to New Zealand’s two largest ever mailings in a single day — each of 2.6 million letters — being raised by Datamail.

Scanning of the electoral rolls represented another first, he says. It involved intelligent recognition of a potential half a billion marks for faster, more accurate reporting than ever before. Up to two-and-a-half million images were scanned, de-skewed and de-speckled to enable the software to discern between correct markings and accidental or erroneous markings.

Optical mark recognition was applied to highlight apparent duplicate votes that had traditionally been difficult to manage. The register was also remodelled to enable short line scoring and faster, easier recording of those voting.

The pre-election EasyVote pack provided to voters by the Electoral Enrolment Centre had also contributed to a more efficient process. An EasyVote card and tailored information about local polling facilities gave people the ability to cast their vote faster and more easily than in previous years.

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