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Elections official honored
Smith says award is his career high point
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Forsyth County News
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Gary J. Smith recently received what he described as the Pulitzer Prize of elections.

Smith, chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Elections, took home the 2009 Freedom Award for innovation, presented during the Election Center’s 25th annual national conference in San Diego.

The center, an association of election officials, honored Smith for his 2008 election program, the early voting wait-time dashboard.

The Internet feature allowed voters to view wait times at all early voting polling stations in real time online.

“Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, it’s like reaching the apex of your career,” Smith said of the honor. “Out of 5,000 some election administrators in the U.S., I was given the award for the most innovative project in 2008.”

Nearly 50 professional practice papers were submitted for review. The papers are given to a panel of judges, but also to convention participants and members via the center’s Web site.

Making the information public allows jurisdictions across the nation to learn and possibly use the programs in their own offices.

“To be honored by the people who I think are the top in my business ... is without a doubt the most I could ever get,” Smith said.