Date of Award
Master of Science in Systems Engineering
Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering
Gretchen A. Macht
The number of vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots cast in the 2020 presidential election reached record highs. Reasons for the sudden increase in voters using VBM ballots range from accessibility to social distancing restrictions and other COVID-19 pandemic health and safety concerns. In conjunction with other circumstances encircling the presidential election, the reporting of VBM results was delayed. This led to mistrust and contributed to mis-, dis-, and mal-information surrounding the election results. Ultimately, it was difficult for election officials to predict how long it would take to verify and tabulate VBM ballots, especially due to the rapid adoption and expansion of VBM. To understand the VBM verification and tabulation system, this research utilizes time studies to define rates, distributions, and processing times for VBM verification and tabulation to support election officials in preparing for VBM results reporting in future elections. The data explored in this study were collected from several counties in the greater Salt Lake City region during the 2022 midterm election. These data consisted of time studies on manual and machine-supported VBM process steps, including, but not limited to, ballot arrival, signature verification, ballot extraction, tabulation, and adjudication. The processing times, processing rates, and representative probability distributions for each VBM process step are defined through statistical methods. These data can assist in predicting the necessary workforce and forecasting the time to report election results with existing equipment. The results aid in supporting election officials and administrators in making data-enabled decisions for future election planning and scheduling.
Otte, Leonie Samira, "ANALYSIS OF VOTE-BY-MAIL PROCESSING AND TABULATION: A TIME STUDY FROM SALT LAKE CITY" (2023). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 2359.
Available for download on Friday, September 05, 2025