CTCL Brings Together Election Officials and Other Experts to Discuss Voter Registration Modernization

Twelve states and the District of Columbia have already approved automatic voter registration, and 20 states have introduced automatic registration proposals in 2018, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

But how do these new voter registration modernization policies impact the workload and processes of local election officials?

To answer this question, CTCL brought together local election officials and other experts for a 1-day workshop in Chicago on May 11. The workshop was facilitated by the Center for Civic Design.

The goal of the workshop was to develop a set of lessons learned for local election officials tackling the effects of voter registration modernization, taking into account different perspectives in various policy frameworks.

To help us draft our lessons learned, we listened to state case studies and discussions about the areas of election administration that voter registration affects. We recognized that every state's implementation is at a different point, but there's something to learn from everyone's unique experience and perspective.

Participants came from Colorado, Illinois, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and California. They included:

·    State and local election officials

·    A DMV administrator

·    Advocates and researchers

We kicked off the workshop by jumping into research about the success of voter registration modernization in places like Colorado and Virginia.

Then the heart of the workshop was built around state case studies, group discussion questions, and of course, lots of sticky notes!

 Workshop attendees view a wall of sticky notes before voting.

Workshop attendees view a wall of sticky notes before voting.

By the end of the day, these colorful sticky notes were organized on the wall and voted on by attendees. This exercise allowed us to zoom in on the top issues for election officials who are responsible for implementing new voter registration policies.

One of the lessons learned from the workshop focused on having good relationships between election offices and DMV offices.

Norelys Consuegra, Deputy Director of Elections with the Rhode Island Secretary of State, called attention to the importance of partnerships when managing new voter registration processes. She said, “Our goal is for people to really care about elections. We have a great working relationship with the DMV. That’s a big part of AVR.”

Another key lesson was the challenge of communicating the new policy to different audiences like legislators, advocates, and voters.

Overall, the group expressed a positive experience with voter registration modernization -- it saves local election offices and the DMV time and money.

For next steps, CTCL will be collecting additional data from election officials and DMV administrators. We’ll use the lessons learned from the workshop and additional site visits to produce 2 webinars and a tool in the Election Toolkit later this summer. These free resources on best practices will benefit local election officials who are rolling out an update to their voter registration process.

Want to keep up with CTCL’s work on voter registration modernization and other election administration resources? Subscribe to our ELECTricity newsletter.

Job: Data Quality Assurance Fellow

Position: Data Quality Assurance Fellow
Location: Chicago or Washington, DC preferred; remote a possibility for qualified applicants
Start Date: June 2018 through June 2019, with possibility of renewal
Salary Range: $50,000 per year
Benefits: Vision, Dental, & Medical Insurance and Cell Phone Reimbursement
Level: Entry Level

Position Description

CTCL’s Civic Data team creates and maintains nationwide datasets of candidate and elected officials, working with partners to ensure that everyone in America can answer basic questions about our democracy. Creating the datasets that power some of the most powerful civic information tools available is hard work. Consistently ensuring that these datasets are the best they can be is even harder. We’re looking for someone with a love of democracy (and a borderline-scary eye for detail) to help maintain and improve the civic information we and our partners provide to the public.

Working with the Director of Civic Data, the Data Quality Assurance Fellow will work with our own data and with our partners to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the civic information available online. Examples of responsibilities include:

  • Verifying civic information. Working to confirm the accuracy of information about candidates, elected officials, and more.
  • Sourcing political geographies. Helping us link people to their specific representatives and candidates by finding and creating identifiers for district boundaries. This includes working with both electoral district shapefiles as well as Open Civic Data Identifiers.
  • Implementing internal quality control systems. Helping our Civic Data team develop and execute strategies for improving our existing quality assurance processes.

Desired Qualifications

A successful candidate for Data Quality Assurance Fellow will have a comprehensive understanding of our mission and demonstrate a proven track record of success. In addition, while no candidate will possess every quality, the successful candidate will possess many of the following qualifications and personal attributes:

  • Meticulous attention to detail. This position is the last line of defense against wrong information getting to the voting public, and we need someone who won’t let anything slip past them.
  • Research experience. Not all civic information is easy to find - that’s why we do what we do. We need someone who is comfortable using both online and offline methods to find the information we need.
  • Strong sense of curiosity. You take delight in immersing yourself in the rabbit hole of research and in finding out new details about America’s democracy.

About CTCL

CTCL is a non-partisan, non-profit that uses technology to improve the way local governments and communities interact. We do this by providing resources for local election administrators so they can update the ways they use technology to communicate with voters. We also do this by publishing free, open-source civic datasets that are used in some of the most powerful tools that drive civic participation.

To date, we’ve built a knowledge network of hundreds of local election administrators through a program we call ELECTricity. And we have published civic datasets that answer questions like 'What’s on my ballot?' and 'Who represents me?', which have been accessed over 200 million times.

Read more about our work here:

To Apply

Applications will be accepted and interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis. To apply:

  1. Submit a short application at techandciviclife.org/data-quality-assurance-fellow-application and email your resume to data@techandciviclife.org.
  2. People who demonstrate that they are qualified in their application materials will have the opportunity to complete a test.
  3. People who perform well on the test will be asked to participate in an interview(s).
  4. Based on the application, test results, interviews, and reference checks, one person will be selected for the position.

The Center for Technology and Civic Life is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. We encourage people of all races, colors, religions, national origins, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, sexes, ages, abilities, branches of military service, and political party affiliations to apply.

Job: Data Analysis & Outreach Fellow

Position: Data Analysis & Outreach Fellow
Location: Chicago or Washington, DC preferred; remote a possibility for qualified applicants
Start Date: July 2018 through December 2018, decision for renewal by November 2018
Salary Range: $50,000 - 65,000 per year (pro-rated)
Benefits: Vision, Dental, & Medical Insurance and Cell Phone Reimbursement
Level: Entry-Mid Level

Position Description

CTCL has conducted extensive research on the demographics of power in the United States through its partnership with the Reflective Democracy Campaign. Our groundbreaking analyses of the race and gender of elected officials and candidates across the country has been featured in national news and has shaped the way we talk about representation in the US. We’re looking to add a full-time Fellow to help make our data even more useful, so that the information and insights it contains can better be used to make our government more modern and reflective.

Working with the Director of Civic Data and our external partners, the Data Analysis & Outreach Fellow will focus on improving, analyzing, and growing the use of our Reflective Democracy dataset. Examples of responsibilities include:

  • Data research & analysis. Finding new ways of expanding and looking at our existing data that help illuminate how well our government reflects its people. Developing case studies and deep-dive analyses on specific subjects. These deep-dives could include analyses of specific geographies, types of elected office, election types or similar topics.
  • Data visualization and reporting.  Developing visualizations and reports to best present our research in interesting and engaging ways.
  • Organizing and outreach. Spreading the reach of our research by engaging with diverse, mission-aligned audiences doing racial justice, civic engagement, policy, and academic work.

Desired Qualifications

A successful candidate for Data Analysis & Outreach Fellow will have a comprehensive understanding of our mission and demonstrate a proven track record of success. In addition, while no candidate will possess every quality, the successful candidate will possess many of the following qualifications and personal attributes:

  • Meticulous attention to detail. You are able to organize non-centralized, non-standard information into a coherent format.
  • Research experience. You have a background in developing quantitative analyses and reports, including creating data visualizations.
  • External outreach skills. You are comfortable contacting people and organizations you haven’t met before to persuade them to form new partnerships.
  • Strong writing skills. You are able to clearly explain complex concepts in plain language.
  • Familiarity with the civic engagement/racial justice landscape. You have a basic understanding of organizations that do non-partisan work around subjects related to the research.
  • Intermediate to Advanced Microsoft Excel skills. You have at least a basic understanding of formulas to manipulate text and execute lookups.
  • Strong sense of curiosity. You take delight in immersing yourself in the rabbit hole of research and in discovering new insights in our data.

About CTCL

CTCL is a non-partisan, non-profit that uses technology to improve the way local governments and communities interact. We do this by providing resources for local election administrators so they can update the ways they use technology to communicate with voters. We also do this by publishing free, open-source civic datasets that are used in some of the most powerful tools that drive civic participation.

To date, we’ve built a knowledge network of hundreds of local election administrators through a program we call ELECTricity. And we have published civic datasets that answer questions like 'What’s on my ballot?' and 'Who represents me?', which have been accessed over 200 million times.

Read more about our work here:

To Apply

Applications will be accepted and interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis. To apply:

  1. Submit a short application at techandciviclife.org/data-analysis-outreach-associate-application and email your resume to data@techandciviclife.org.
  2. People who demonstrate that they are qualified in their application materials will have the opportunity to complete a test.
  3. People who perform well on the test will be asked to participate in an interview(s).
  4. Based on the application, test results, interviews, and reference checks, one person will be selected for the position.

The Center for Technology and Civic Life is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. We encourage people of all races, colors, religions, national origins, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, sexes, ages, abilities, branches of military service, and political party affiliations to apply.

Job: Civic Data Research Fellow

Position: Civic Data Research Fellow
Location: Washington, DC
Start Date: June 2018
End Date: November 2018
Salary Range: $48,000 per year (pro-rated)
Benefits: Vision, Dental, & Medical Insurance and Cell Phone Reimbursement
Level: Entry Level

Position Description

“What’s on my ballot?” is the number one question that voters look for online - but the answer to that question is harder to find than you might think. With nearly 8,000 offices responsible for running elections in America, the basic information that voters need to participate in elections is often poorly formatted and hard to find - if it’s online at all. At the Center for Technology and Civic Life, we think all voters should be able to find this information online, and we need your help! In 2016, our ballot data reached between one-third and one-half of all voters in the country, and we expect 2018 to be even bigger.

We’re looking for a set of 2018 Civic Data Fellows to help us standardize the nation’s ballot information, so that all Americans can find information about what will be on their ballot in November. Civic Data Fellows will work closely with our Research Associates and Director of Civic Data to collect and standardize information about candidates and referenda from across the country. If you love democracy, researching obscure facts, and turning chaos into order, this is the job for you!

Responsibilities

  • Research: Lead efforts in creating and updating our dataset of candidates and issues on voters’ General Election ballots.
  • Quality Assurance: Work with the Research Associates and Director of Civic Data to implement data quality checks to ensure the accuracy and completeness of data.
  • Issue Support: Once the data goes live, respond to user feedback in real time.

Desired Qualifications

A successful candidate for Civic Data Fellow will have a comprehensive understanding of our mission and demonstrate a proven track record of success. In addition, while no candidate will possess every quality, the successful candidate will possess many of the following qualifications and personal attributes:

  • Ability to organize non-centralized, non-standard information into a coherent format.
  • Basic knowledge of American politics, elections, and/or election administration.
  • Demonstrated research experience.
  • Excellent communication skills, particularly by telephone.
  • Experience with political data and/or Excel.
  • Passion for learning.
  • Thrives in an intensive and outcome-driven work culture.
  • Tech-savvy and eagerness to learn to use new tools and technology.

About CTCL

CTCL is a non-partisan, non-profit that uses technology to improve the way local governments and communities interact. We do this by providing resources for local election administrators so they can update the ways they use technology to communicate with voters. We also do this by publishing free, open-source civic datasets that are used in some of the most powerful tools that drive civic participation.

To date, we’ve built a knowledge network of hundreds of local election administrators through a program we call ELECTricity. And we have published civic datasets that answer questions like 'What’s on my ballot?' and 'Who represents me?', which have been accessed over 200 million times.

Read more about our work here:

To Apply

Applications will be accepted and interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis. To apply:

  1. Submit a short application at techandciviclife.org/civic-data-research-fellow-application and email your resume to data@techandciviclife.org.
  2. People who demonstrate that they are qualified in their application materials will have the opportunity to complete a test.
  3. People who perform well on the test will be asked to participate in an interview(s).
  4. Based on the application, test results, interviews, and reference checks, one person will be selected for the position.

The Center for Technology and Civic Life is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. We encourage people of all races, colors, religions, national origins, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, sexes, ages, abilities, branches of military service, and political party affiliations to apply.

Save the Dates: Cybersecurity Online Training Series for Election Officials

Data breaches, ransomware, and denial of service attacks are becoming regular headlines in America. Cyber attacks are a reality of modern private and public sector operations, including election administration. Election officials are uniquely positioned on the front lines to help safeguard our democracy while ensuring that each vote counts.

To help you rise to the challenge, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) is partnering with the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) to deliver a new cybersecurity training series designed for election officials this July and August.

By bringing together the cybersecurity expertise of CDT with the teaching style of CTCL, the training series offers you accessible levels of technical knowledge coupled with practical next steps—all in an engaging, interactive online classroom environment.

The series will include 3 courses, only $50 each, to empower your election office to manage cyber threats and communicate with the public about cybersecurity. 

After completing the series, you’ll have more confidence to safeguard against and respond to cyber threats in your election office. Seats are limited, so be sure to register today!

 

Courses

July 10 & August 28
1:00 – 2:30pm CT

Cybersecurity 101: Introduction
- Understand cybersecurity terminology
- Identify types of cyber threats
- Create stronger login practices

July 24 & August 29
1:00 – 2:30pm CT

Cybersecurity 201: Intermediate
- Manage access to devices and networks
- Safeguard your election data
- Develop partnerships to overcome security challenges

July 31 & August 30
1:00 – 2:30pm CT

Cybersecurity 301: Communications
- Make a cyber incident response plan
- Inform the public about your office’s security leadership
- Build media allies

 

Led by


CTCL's Executive Director Selected as 2018 Obama Foundation Fellow

Selected out of more than 20,000 applicants from 191 countries, the Center for Technology and Civic Life’s executive director, Tiana Epps-Johnson, is joining a diverse set of civic innovators from around the world in the inaugural Obama Foundation Fellows Class.

This first class of Fellows brings together 20 individuals representing 11 countries across the globe, who are confronting many of the world’s most pressing problems through civic innovation. Fellows are organizers, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, educators, and more. They bring together a variety of disciplines and apply their knowledge to a range of missions.

"I am so excited for this opportunity to learn with and from other people who are tackling big civic challenges”, says Tiana. “And I'm beyond grateful for this investment in my leadership. I look forward to growing the ways I'm able to support the work we're doing at CTCL to modernize the U.S. voting system so that it works for all of us."

The two-year, non-residential Fellowship will give Tiana and other selected Fellows hands-on training and exposure to help them amplify the impact of their work while inspiring other civic innovators.

Fellows will participate in four multi-day gatherings to collaborate with one another, connect with potential partners, and break down silos to advance their work. The first Fellows gathering will be in Chicago in May.

Each Fellow will also develop and pursue with the Foundation a personalized plan to leverage the fellowship and Obama Foundation resources to take their work to the next level. As Fellows put their plans into action, the Obama Foundation will assist with access to mentors, coaches, and additional resources.

“The 2018 Obama Foundation Fellows come from diverse backgrounds but share a common desire to make positive change and create the world as it should be,” said David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation. “By bringing these individuals together, we hope to help amplify the work of our Fellows so it has a widespread impact. On behalf of President and Mrs. Obama and the Obama Foundation family, I congratulate our new Fellows and look forward to working with them.”

Find out more about the Obama Foundation Fellowship at www.obama.org/fellowship. Join the conversation on Twitter using #ObamaFellows.

Tiana Epps-Johnson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Technology and Civic Life. Prior to CTCL, she was the New Organizing Institute's Election Administration Director. At the Center, she and her team provide resources and training to support local election administrators in modernizing the ways they communicate with voters. They also publish free, open-source civic datasets that have been accessed over 200 million times through some of the most powerful tools that drive civic participation. Tiana holds an MSc in Politics and Communication from the London School of Economics and a BA in Political Science from Stanford University. Additionally, in 2015 Tiana was selected as an inaugural member of the Technology and Democracy fellowship at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School.

2018 Ballot Information Project Data Now Available

It’s springtime (even if it might not feel like it where you are quite yet), and that means longer days, the return of baseball, and--of course--ballot data from CTCL’s Civic Data team! Texas and Illinois have already had their primaries, which means that the Ballot Information Project (BIP) is officially underway for the 2018 November General Election. Federal and statewide candidate data for those two states are already ready for your consumption, and we’re just getting started!

BIP, in addition to being an incredibly fun acronym to pronounce, is CTCL’s effort to collect, standardize, and put online the answer to the most commonly asked question in American democracy: “What’s on my ballot?” BIP collects nationwide candidate and contest information down to the hyperlocal level (mosquito control boards, anyone?) and matches that data to political geography via Open Civic Data Identifiers. We also collect ballot measures, office descriptions, and information on how to learn more about or contact candidates. You can learn more about what BIP covers on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Since 2012, BIP data has been accessed over 200 million times. Thanks to partnerships with organizations like Google and Facebook, in 2016 BIP had the largest reach of any non-profit voter information project, ever. By putting civic answers that in some cases do not exist online in the places people are already looking for information, we help make sure that everyone has an opportunity to cast informed votes all the way down the ballot.  We look forward to continuing this success with our partners in 2018!

But our partnerships aren’t just limited to large technology organizations. Often, the most impactful use of our data comes from smaller, more local organizations and projects--and we’d love for yours to be one of them! We welcome and support partners of all scales. In the past this has included organizations like First Vote NC, who uses BIP data to create realistic election simulations for high school students around election time. We are always on the lookout for new and exciting projects to support, and would love to hear from you!

If you are a developer or a member of an organization that wants to use BIP data to build a civic engagement tool, please reach out to data@techandciviclife.org. Our data is free to use for 501(c)(3) nonprofits, small companies, and other educational users. If you don’t qualify for free use, we can work with your organization to put together a data licensing contract that suits both your needs and your budget.

Getting early access to our feeds allows you to build product on live data before it’s published in places like the Google Civic Information API. When the data does go live in the API, it will be in the same structure you’ve worked with all year, allowing you to seamlessly integrate the API’s more powerful functionality if you so choose.

On CTCL’s Civic Data team, we do the legwork of collecting and standardizing this basic information so that civic engagement organizations can spend more time focusing on the parts of the work that matter to them. Let us help you save countless hours making phone calls to election officials--and save the election officials from those calls, too!

PS: We do more than just data! If you need any extra assistance with the implementation or strategic development of your tools, we also offer a range of consulting services - email data@techandciviclife.org for more information!

CTCL Online Training Series Reaches New Audiences of Election Officials

The CTCL Government Services team advances the digital, data, and design skills of election officials through our professional development training. And to make our training more convenient and affordable for every election office, we started delivering 90-minute online courses in 2017.

Our 2017 Summer School training series was a big success, so to follow up on that experience we kicked off another online training program in February 2018.

We began by offering the original 4 Summer School courses for those election officials who may have missed them.

  • Social Media for Voter Engagement
  • Improving Your Election Website

  • Accessible Communication for Election Offices

  • Collecting, Analyzing, Visualizing Election Data

In addition, we introduced 2 brand new courses that cover topics that election officials told us they're interested in.

Election officials shopped for the 2 new courses on the CTCL website

Participants included election officials representing 3 states/provinces, 28 counties, and 3 cities. Most notably, with 7 members of the Elections Ontario team in attendance, our training reached an international audience for the very first time.

We’re proud that CTCL courses are useful for any size jurisdiction, and that was evident in the Online Series. Staff from large election jurisdictions like Los Angeles County, CA (with over 6,000,000 registered voters) worked alongside staff from small jurisdictions like the Town of Burrillville, RI (with just over 11,000 registered voters).

In total, the election officials who attended the Online Series serve over 40 million U.S. and Canadian voters.

Election officials from the U.S. and Canada attended the online training

Overall, the CTCL training program continues to show growth -- the 2018 Online Series premiered new curricula and connected new audiences of election officials to each other and to CTCL’s expertise.

We’re excited to offer 3 new, specialized courses this summer, so be on the lookout for additional information on the next online series in the coming weeks.

Want to learn more about the training that CTCL offers to election officials? Check out our professional development courses. Have a suggestion or question about training? Email us at courses@techandciviclife.org.

CTCL Civic Data Research in the News

The CTCL Civic Data team is gearing up for a big year in 2018 -- stay tuned for announcements about our data release schedule -- but last week our past years’ research was again in the national spotlight.

Since 2015, CTCL has partnered with the Women Donors Network’s Reflective Democracy campaign on research into the demographics of candidates and elected officials. This research takes our existing candidate and elected official datasets and adds race and gender, through both independent research and matching to existing modeled data. Our 2015 research on the race and gender of prosecutors, which was featured in the New York Times, found that 95% of elected prosecutors in the United States were white and nearly 80% were white men. This research was again highlighted in the March 14th episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, in her segment about prosecutorial discretion. You can watch the clip, with our research appearing around the 2:50 mark, here. [Heads up: the clip includes some salty language.]

More recently, CTCL & WDN’s Reflective Democracy research was included as part of Cosmopolitan’s How to Run for Office feature. This series, appearing both online and in print, focused on personal stories and articles encouraging women across the political spectrum to run for elective office. On March 13, the 2018 National Magazine Awards for Print and Digital Media (known as the Ellies for the award’s pachydermous shape) honored the series with the Ellie in the Personal Service category.

CTCL is proud of the role our research plays in supporting award winning journalism, and we look forward to continuing our work to help understand how communities across the country work with and are represented by their government.

CTCL Hosts Third Annual Ballot Data Convening

 Illuminated sign directing attendees to the 2018 Ballot Data Convening at Google DC

Illuminated sign directing attendees to the 2018 Ballot Data Convening at Google DC

In late January, CTCL’s civic data team hosted the third annual Ballot Data Convening, at Google’s Washington, DC offices. As with previous years, the Democracy Fund sponsored convening brought together a wide range of organizations that use ballot data to drive civic participation. This year, attendees ran the spectrum from small civic engagement organizations to large tech companies, and included representatives from the worlds of funders, academia, and government. 

All told 38 individuals from 25 organizations were in attendance for a full day of discussions, kicked off with a happy hour the night before sponsored by Microsoft. Topics covered during the convening included opportunities and challenges for collaboration in 2018, how we as a community can get better at measuring who our work impacts and how, and an update on the ballot data working groups from 2017.

In small groups, then in plenary, the morning was focused on discussing the work ahead of us in 2018. Participants highlighted the heightened energy and public interest in elections going into 2018 as an opportunity for driving increased participation. On the other hand, this increased attention also brings additional scrutiny, and more candidates running for office means more work to do prior to the election. The group also discussed the implications of new federal and state initiatives on our work, particularly around cybersecurity. All told, those in attendance were pleased with the progress we’ve made and institutional knowledge we’ve built as a community over the past years, but emphasized that challenges like a lack of funding and tight timelines as continued issues. A full set of notes of this discussion as taken on the day of the meeting can be found here

We also spent time as a group discussing how we think about the impact of our work. This included discussing answers to pre-convening survey questions around who organizations viewed as their target audience and what behaviors they hoped to produce. These questions drew a wide range of responses. Some groups use surveys and randomized experiments to explore the answers to these questions, while others had little to no resources available explicitly for measurement. This disparity in measurement resources, as well as inherent limitations in some groups’ ability to access data from partners, will be a key ongoing discussion topic in working groups throughout 2018.

Afternoon sessions were focused on updates on working groups’ progress and breakouts on their subject areas. Representatives from Democracy Works and the National States Geographic Information Council gave updates on their work on identifiers and political geography, respectively, and CTCL gave updates on the audience & impact working group as well as the data & sources group. 

A summary of resources shared at the convening, including notes, attendees, and slides, can be found here. Stay tuned in this space or join our civic data mailing list for updates as more formalized findings and resources are rolled out!