Wake County, North Carolina coordinates polling places with Call-Em-All

This story was featured in our ELECTricity newsletter in August 2016. Sign up to receive more success stories from election offices across the country. And how is your election office using technology to run excellent elections? Tell us about it by emailing kurt@techandciviclife.org -- we'd love to share your story!

According to Angel Perkins, most of the poll workers in Wake County, North Carolina have been working the elections for over 30 years. She’s gotten to witness this dedication firsthand as the Recruitment Coordinator for the Board of Elections. “I believe they keep coming back because we treat them like family,” she explains. 

In her 5 years in the position, Angel has noticed that the thing that gets the Precinct Officials the most excited is hearing which precinct they’ve been assigned to. They just can’t wait to see which friends and neighbors they’ll be working with.

30 years ago, when Wake County’s veteran poll workers were still just rookies, notifying Precinct Officials about their assignments took a lot of work: election staff had to make hundreds of phone calls or prepare hundreds of mailers. Those were the options in the old days. But now, the Board of Elections sends precinct assignments much more quickly and easily with recorded voice broadcasts. 

Using Call-Em-All, a bulk texting and voice messaging platform, they’ve discovered that these broadcasts streamline a number of other communication tasks, as well. 

A challenge of coordination

Home to Raleigh, the state capitol, Wake County is the second most populous county in the state. The area is part of North Carolina’s Research Triangle, a hub of innovative research and industry that has helped to make Wake County one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States.

Raleigh, the county seat of Wake County. Photo courtesy of Angel Perkins.

Raleigh, the county seat of Wake County. Photo courtesy of Angel Perkins.

It’s also home to over 675,000 registered voters, and to serve them all, the Wake County Board of Elections administers 202 polling places on Election Day along with several early voting sites. More than 2,000 Precinct Officials are needed each election to staff the polls. So it’s no surprise that coordinating all of these people and places takes major organization and effort. 

Of course, this also means major time and money. “Before using Call-Em All,” Angel says, “it took a lot of hours to stay in constant contact with our officials. It consisted of team members making one-on-one contact by phone. And we would also do mass mailings, which would consume a lot of time.”

To make things better, Angel and her colleagues on the Operations/Staffing Team searched for a tool that would add speed and efficiency to their communication efforts. “We wanted to see what opportunities were out there that would allow us to communicate more effectively,” she explains. 

They found Call-Em-All and quickly decided that it was the fast, reliable solution they were looking for. 

Calling (or texting) ‘em all

Call-Em-All functions, basically, as a web-based control panel for sending recorded voice messages or texts to a lot of people at once. “The process for using it is simple,” Angel observes. “You create your contact list, record a voice or text message, and send it out at your preferred scheduled time.” 

The platform comes with plenty of options, too. For instance, you can send the same message to everyone -- which makes sense when, for instance, you have a reminder that’s relevant for the whole group -- or, you can send a specific message to a select group of users, which is perfect for sending poll workers those precinct assignments that they get so excited about.

Because of Call-Em-All’s versatility, Angel and her team use it for a number of different functions. Targeting their Precinct Officials, they send out their precinct assignment notifications, as well as reminders about trainings and important dates and alerts about inclement weather.

Staff outside the Board of Elections office, with Angel Perkins holding star. Photo courtesy of Angel Perkins.

Staff outside the Board of Elections office, with Angel Perkins holding star. Photo courtesy of Angel Perkins.

But it’s useful not only for providing information to the poll workers; the Operations/Staffing team also use it to collect information about the 202 polling locations that they use. “We send test calls to polling place facilities,” Angel describes, “to ensure modem lines in the precincts are working and to determine what lines need to be repaired.” 

This is yet another major coordination effort that, in Wake County, takes much less time than it used to.

Speed and peace of mind

Since she and her team have been using Call-Em-All, Angel has found that not only does it save time, but it also contributes some much needed consistency and reliability to the demanding -- and often hectic -- coordination stage of the election season. 

She especially likes the comprehensive delivery reports that come with every bulk message broadcast. “After your message is sent,” she explains, “Call-Em-All then sends you a detailed report that informs you of the customers that were reached and the numbers that were no longer in service.” 

In other words, unlike email, regular phone calls, or mailers, you get greater reassurance that your message reached the people you wanted to reach. 

Ultimately, it didn’t take long for Call-Em-All to become an important tool for the Wake County Board of Elections to help gear up for Election Day. Angel considers herself a fan. “I would say Call-Em-All is very user friendly and is a great way to reach thousands of your officials,” she says, adding, “Call-Em-All will always be a part of our process to effectively communicate with our volunteers and facilities.”

One of Wake County's dedicated Precinct officials. Photo courtesy of Angel Perkins.

One of Wake County's dedicated Precinct officials. Photo courtesy of Angel Perkins.

Do you want to try Call-Em-All yourself? Check out our step-by-step instructions for the tool, which are part of the Election Toolkit. And if you have questions about how Angel and her Operations/Staffing Team in Wake County have used used this platform for voice broadcasts, you can reach out to her at Angel.Perkins@wakegov.com.

Do you have tips and tricks for coordinating poll workers and testing polling facilities in your area? Share your strategies with us at kurt@techandciviclife.org.