Orange County, North Carolina Board of Elections

How Orange County, NC Used New Technology to Modernize Election Administration


As Director of Elections for Orange County, North Carolina, Rachel Raper oversees all aspects of federal, state, county, and municipal elections across 40 voting precincts serving 110,000 registered voters. 

Initially, Rachel attempted to implement an online wait time monitoring system by partnering with the county’s GIS department. When the project fell through for technical reasons, she had to search for an alternative solution quickly.

Rachel first connected with U.S. Digital Response (USDR) after seeing a presentation at an elections conference, filing their card in case USDR’s solutions ever aligned with her county’s needs. With an election deadline fast approaching, Rachel had no time to vet multiple vendors thoroughly. “I found that business card and reached out to USDR. Within the day, we had a meeting set up,” she recalled.

Rachel needed user-friendly software to provide snapshots of voting site wait times without complex maps or unnecessary charts. USDR delivered an essential, hyper-focused tool matching the county’s constraints and community expectations.

“I wanted something straightforward,” said Rachel. “I didn't want it to be map-based. I just wanted voters to see a table.” The resulting Wait Time Tracker required almost no training from workers who submitted the wait times. It also provided data throughout Election Day, earning positive reviews from voters.

Satisfied with this initial experience, Rachel continued turning to USDR for specialized tools that could create centralized digital election worker records, replace printed schedules with online shift signups, and enable communication with precinct officials on smartphones. 

An opportunity to modernize manual and paper-based processes

As Rachel evaluated Orange County’s systems, she pinpointed antiquated paper processes as a significant drain on resources. “Before we used USDR’s tools, we would mail potential election workers a letter that included a postcard they would have to sign and send back to us confirming that they would be willing to be in that position,” she explained.

This manual method took 2-3 weeks per appointment cycle, with no guarantee potential workers would return the postcards. The county even tried adding postage-paid return envelopes, costing money while barely improving response rates. “We were sending a whole package to everyone plus the postage to send it back,” noted Rachel.

There were also reams of paper data that needed to be entered into their unwieldy system, not only consuming staff time but also introducing opportunities for human error. And with judge appointment lists not finalized until shortly before election day, there was minimal time to get precinct teams and poll workers trained and equipped. 

Lastly, crucial emergency contact details were buried in file cabinets, which could have created a significant delay in locating critical information if an emergency had occurred.

Our approach

Digital tools bring efficient processes

To continue conducting smooth, efficient elections in the face of rapid change, Rachel partnered with USDR to implement the Election Administration Platform, a one-stop-shop for election offices to manage critical election logistics on election day and beyond. The platform is available as part of membership in the Elections Software Collaborative, administered by USDR.

Orange County now relies on a variety of USDR election tools to support its elections:

  • Voting Wait Time Tracker provides voters with up-to-date information on lines at polling places during early voting. 
  • Election Administration Platform eliminates cumbersome paperwork, enabling officials to train, contact, and assign precinct staff quickly. Within the platform, the County uses many key features:
    • Election Day Help Desk enables communication with polling places to monitor supplies, voting trends, and vote tally discrepancies.  
    • Election Worker Management system simplifies early voting by enabling poll workers to sign up for shifts online and automatically calculates worker hours to streamline payroll.

These digital systems minimize errors, save time, reduce costs, and allow staff to focus on voter outreach and implementing new voter ID requirements.

“My partnership with USDR has helped me reach my goal of getting our department more time while we move away from paper records into electronic records for the entire office. It’s been a wonderful partnership."

Rachel Raper
Director of Elections
Orange County, North Carolina


The implementation of USDR’s customizable Election Administration Platform directly supported Rachel’s overarching modernization goals. “My partnership with USDR has helped me reach my goal of getting our department more time while we move away from paper records into electronic records for the entire office. It’s been a wonderful partnership,” Rachel said.

The user-friendly design of the various tools meant Orange County could roll them out without extensive training. “The tools are so simple. If you can type into an Excel spreadsheet, you can certainly use USDR's tools,” Rachel added.

Election officials quickly got on board with the streamlined digital processes, easing concerns about pushback from less digitally fluent poll workers. “We were apprehensive that people would just say, I don't know how to use a phone, I don't know how to use email,” admitted Rachel. “But we didn't. We did not have that issue at all.”

Collaborative partnerships with other election offices emerged as an unexpected benefit of working with USDR. “I enjoyed that we had a meeting where people just talked about some of the products they use,” Rachel said. Brainstorming election planning checklists, voter materials, and workflows represent a human component unavailable through traditional vendors. “I appreciate how this is a partnership. This is a collaborative,” she said. “That’s absolutely another benefit beyond just the technical stuff.”

Innovating for the future

Rachel emphasized the importance of fully understanding existing election procedures within your jurisdiction before pursuing sweeping changes. “It’s essential to make decisions with full understanding. You need to see processes in action that might appear antiquated.”

Yet, keeping an open mind can reveal where modernizing aligns with community priorities. The digital systems from USDR minimized busywork while improving accuracy and visibility. 

“Everyone feels part of the process, which made things easier,” Rachel said. This co-creation mindset fuels ongoing innovation as Orange County heads toward the future. Rachel is considering further potential in campaign finance reporting automation. 

By starting small and designing for the community, election administrators can reinvent public services for the modern era. Reach out to USDR to learn more about how we can help your office better serve voters. 


Meet the team

Truman Cranor
Truman most recently served as an engineer on Airbnb's listing compliance team, building tools and features to help users navigate a complex global tapestry of regulations.
Jide Ehimika
Jide is a technical product manager working with partners to build tools required to run modern, efficient, and trustworthy elections. He has over a decade experience in helping teams build tools and processes to transform their organizations.
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