Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller announced the official launch of a revamped website meant to improve the local voting and elections process.
The features include a countdown clock to the next election, an absentee ballot tracker, a deadline calendar for candidates and voters, a Google-based polling place map, a training portal for election judges and what Schoeller and his staff hope will be a more user-friendly results tracker.
The big test for the new way to track election results will come in the municipal elections of April 5.
The website was last redesigned in 2016, two years after Schoeller took the clerk’s office in 2014. In 2020, the Greene County Clerk’s Office received grants from the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office and from Greene County through the federal CARES Act, and a grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life. About $29,000 went toward redesigning the county clerk’s website for the first time in five years.
Election equipment is pre-tested and post-tested for each election. The website tools, like the results tracker, will get their first tests when they see live action in the April municipal elections.
“It has not been crash-tested, because really, you have to have an election to be able to do that,” Schoeller said. “But we feel confident in terms of the capability of this site that we should have a good experience on the night of the election. Never say never, right? But we’re going to hope for the best and believe that we’ve got a great site that will be able to handle it.”
Schoeller said the goals of the revamping were to make elections more transparent, easier to navigate and friendlier for users of all types.
“The other thing we really worked on was clear communication messaging, that was one of the goals for the website. We want to make it more user friendly for voters, our political subdivisions, our cities, our schools, our fire protection districts here in the county, political parties–we want them to have better functionality–and any interest groups that are here in Greene County that are interested in what’s taking place in elections,” Schoeller said.
Filing for the August primary opens Feb. 22, and the filing window is open until March 29. The clerk’s office put together a candidates section on the website that gives candidates a checklist of documentation they will need to provide, the candidate filing procedures and the qualifications they will need to meet to run for office.
“We want to make filing for any candidate who decides to run for office as easy as possible,” Schoeller said.
The filing fee to run for office in Greene County is set to double from $50 to $100 per candidate.
The positions of Greene County auditor, circuit clerk, collector of revenue, county clerk, presiding commissioner, prosecuting attorney and recorder of deeds are all up for election in the fall of 2022.
Party chairpersons for the Greene County Republican and Democratic parties were both at the briefing for the new website on Feb. 15, because positions on party central committees will also be up for election in the August primaries.
Schoeller said running for a central committee and becoming an election judge is a great way to take some responsibility for the security of elections in Greene County.
“One of the things our statutes empower the voters to do is to connect with your local party chairs. Actually, at the end of this year on the 10th of December, one of the things that the party chairs do is they give us a list that tells us people that we can call on to be election judges for the upcoming next two years. That is a critical part of the election infrastructure and ensures that we have accountability,” Schoeller said.
The CARES Act funding helped to prepare election judges to work at polling places.
“Those same funds were used to actually pay election judges more, so we were able to pay a minimum $200 per election, and that includes training,” Schoeller said. “As a result of that, we actually had more election judges ready to help us in 2020 than any previous election.”
Voter turnout on Nov. 3, 2020, in Greene County was more than 84 percent, with 142,752 ballots cast.
Greene County is one of 45 voting jurisdictions in Missouri to receive funding from the Center for Tech and Civic Life. The Center for Tech and Civic Life describes itself as “a team of civic technologists, trainers, researchers, election administration and data experts working to foster a more informed and engaged democracy, and helping to modernize U.S. elections.” It was founded in 2015.