Sacramento County Voter Registration and Elections
(VRE) has always valued total transparency in the Election and voting process. That includes allowing members of the public and media to view operations in person when requested, access to data and results in a timely manner and fielding as many questions as possible from voters.
Then came COVID. The November 2020 Election has presented many challenges to the Election process, but perhaps the most challenging is the importance of social distancing and safety amid a global pandemic. In spaces that are normally packed with both Election workers and observers alike, now there is space – maximum capacity limits, six feet between people, sneeze guards and face coverings. So how can the Election process remain accessible and transparent if fewer people have access to view?
Meet Clyde. Clyde is a robot that VRE purchased with a grant from the Center for Technology and Civic Life
– a technology company that specifically helps Election officials secure the resources they need to run a safe, fair and effective Election. To the layman, Clyde looks like a tablet riding a Segway, but he is much more sophisticated than that.
More about Clyde
- Clyde has two-way microphone, so he can communicate back and forth.
- Clyde also has two-way video, which will be used to project what Clyde sees onto a screen/projector in the lobby on Election night. Clyde’s view can also be viewed on a regular laptop.
- Clyde has his own WiFi network, with two additional hubs added to ensure he is able to make his way through the entire department without loss of connectivity.
- Through the laptop/iPad, the operator is able to select spots on a “grid” (looks like dots on the ground), to navigate Clyde through the department.
- Clyde also has the ability to rise up taller, and come down lower.
- Observers are able to view processes in real-time, as it’s happening, while limiting exposure to the staff.
Clyde is just one of the technological additions to the Election night viewing team. VRE will also stage GoPros in the small warehouse to observe the mail sorter and ballot counting room to stream upon request. These additions not only allow fewer people in any given space, but they maintain the level of transparency VRE has come to provide for Sacramento County voters.