Williamsburg Wins Innovation Award for Drive-Thru Voting System

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Director of Elections Tina Reitzel (left) and Assistant Registrar Haley Snapp. The City of Williamsburg was awarded the 2021 Innovation Award for its drive-thru voting system. (WYDaily/Courtesy of City of Williamsburg)

WILLIAMSBURG — The City of Williamsburg was awarded the Virginia Municipal League (VML)’s 2021 Innovation Award in the category of Risk Management for its drive-thru voting system in May and June 2020.

The annual statewide competition recognizes innovative problem-solving, excellence in management, citizen participation, and improved services to citizens. 

VML received nearly 70 entries and judges selected one winner in each of eight categories.

Over the course of five weeks, the City of Williamsburg’s Voter Registrar organized two drive-thru elections, merging Williamsburg’s two physical voting locations into a single drive-thru system at the Williamsburg Fire Department.

The drive-thru system was used for the City Council election on May 19, 2020, and again for the Virginia Republican Primary for U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives on June 23, 2020.

The system was designed to encourage voters to vote absentee and allow residents to feel safe while voting amid the pandemic. Williamsburg’s two voting precincts were split between the two fire station bays and walk-up voters were able to use a ballot box that was set up.

According to a Sept. 17 release from the City of Williamsburg, the City is the only municipality in Virginia, to its knowledge, that fully replaced its in-person voting locations with a drive-thru system.

“We are incredibly honored to receive this recognition from the Virginia Municipal League,”
Director of Elections Tina Reitzel said. “It is a testament to the hard work and innovation of the City government and its dedicated employees, who not only designed, prepared, and
implemented this drive-thru system, but served as election volunteers.”

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