Harrisburg, PA (STL.News)With the pandemic creating unprecedented challenges over the past year, Governor Tom Wolf is honoring state employees who went above and beyond this year with Governor’s Awards for Excellence. The governor is recognizing ten employees from the Office of Administration with Governor’s Awards for Excellence for their work to implement IT system changes that helped Pennsylvania have a successful election amid historic turnout and improved online services for voters, including the option to cast ballots by mail.
Naveen Allu, Vishwas Chandanshive, Smitha Jayaprakash, Jennifer Joyner, David Naisby, Bryan Reed, Nicole Ryan, Richard Schoffstall, Wanda Wallace and Dean Winkelspecht are among 51 employees across 10 state agencies who will be recognized for extraordinary accomplishments in 2020 at a virtual ceremony on May 5.
“I want to congratulate all of this year’s award recipients and extend my heartfelt gratitude for their inspired public service to the people of Pennsylvania,” said Governor Wolf. “These IT employees from the Office of Administration played an essential behind the scenes role in preserving our proud democratic tradition of free and fair elections.”
“The bi-partisan election reforms signed into law by Governor Wolf with Act 77 were the most significant improvements to Pennsylvania’s elections in more than 80 years and required substantial changes to the technology systems used to administer them,” said Secretary of Administration Michael Newsome. “These employees worked under exceptional time pressure to ensure that Pennsylvanians had access to safe, convenient and secure options to cast their votes, which became especially critical with the onset of COVID-19.”
Historic reforms of Act 77 of 2019 include no-excuse mail-in voting and extended deadlines for voter registration. With just five months until the 2020 primary, the team implemented changes across multiple internal and public-facing systems managed by the Department of State for online voter registration, the statewide voter database and reporting election results. Their success was made possible through an aggressive project schedule, exceptional collaboration with the department’s elections staff and suppliers, and impeccable attention to detail in every aspect of their work. Because this work began prior to the pandemic, the team also had to transition working remotely during this high-priority project without missing a beat.
The convenience of mail-in voting contributed to a record turnout of over 6.9 million Pennsylvanians in the 2020 presidential election.