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!

CTCL celebrates its 3rd birthday

2017 was another year of growth and impact for our small, but mighty team. We’re excited to share our 2017 highlights and a sneak peak at what we’re up to this year.

Building a network of advisors

At CTCL, we know that teamwork makes the dream work. In February 2017, we recruited an Advisory Committee to shape our curriculum and expand the reach of our Government Services work. The Advisory Committee is comprised of 8 election experts from across the country.

To date, we've convened four times to discuss updates to the Election Toolkit, ideas for new courses, and civic data. Our advisors have been instrumental to strengthening the CTCL brand and helping us reach more election officials. Because of their outreach, our ELECTricity network grew to over 1,000 members in 2017.

Stay up to date on the work of our Advisory Committee (and other highlights throughout the year) by visiting our blog.

Fostering civic data collaboration

In March 2017 CTCL’s Civic Data team hosted our second ballot data convening at Google DC. This annual meeting, which is made possible with support from Democracy Fund, brought together 37 people from 24 organizations that collect ballot data and/or build voter-facing ballot tools.

The 2017 convening had three objectives:

  1. Share learnings from the 2016 election cycle.
  2. Identify concrete ways we as a field can improve ballot data collection and expand civic data’s impact.
  3. Launch working groups to implement mutually identified solutions.

Following the March convening, working groups were formed to collaborate in four areas:

  • political geography,
  • data collection & sources,
  • identifiers, and
  • audience & impact.

Since the 2017 convening, the working groups have already made concrete advancements in each issue area. This includes completing an analysis of the state of states’ GIS systems based on surveying done by new working group member the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), creating a new governance structure for Open Civic Data Identifiers, conducting a shared research scan on audiences and impact for civic engagement, and beginning the process for sharing primary-source information among ballot data collection groups.

And this work has continued into 2018! In January we held our third convening in Washington, DC. Together we reflected on our 2017 collaboration and identified priorities for our 2018 work.

Interested in learning more about our work to foster collaboration among ballot data groups? Check out our resource hub from the 2018 ballot convening.

Launching online professional development courses for election officials

The CTCL Government Services team advances the tech skills of election officials through professional development. To keep our courses convenient, affordable, and practical, we decided to deliver the content in a modern way -- through an online classroom.

With the guidance and insight of our Advisory Committee, we prepared condensed, 90-minute versions of our most popular courses:

  • Social Media for Voter Engagement,
  • Improving Your Election Website,
  • Accessible Communication for Election Offices, and
  • Collection, Analyzing, and Visualizing Election Data.

Courses were offered on successive Wednesdays in July and August of 2017.

Our experiment with online curriculum delivery was a success! Attendees ranged from large election authorities like Dallas County, Texas (with 1.29 million registered voters) to small jurisdictions like the city of Houghton, Michigan (home to 3,056 registered voters). All told, we had 102 election officials representing 34 county, 8 municipal, and 3 state offices. Together, these officials administer elections for over 17 million voters.

And we’ve kicked 2018 off with another online training opportunity for election officials.

Is your election office looking for new training this year? You can register now for affordable online courses throughout February, including 2 new courses for 2018 -- Messages that Motivate Voters and Poll Worker Management Best Practices.

Quantifying the state of representation

In October, CTCL’s Civic Data team released an update to our Reflective Democracy dataset in partnership with Womens Donor Network. 2017 marked our third update to this dataset that tracks the race and gender of elected officials and candidates. This dataset helps organizations and constituents understand what their government looks like, and who is (and is not) represented.

Our 2017 data release was featured in Cosmopolitan’s Run for Office package as well as in the Washington Post. And for the first time, the dataset not only included all federal, state, and county officeholders and candidates, but also included city-level officials and candidates.

Are you interested in doing your own analysis? You can access the datasets from 2012, 2014, and 2016 at wholeads.us.

Providing ongoing election support

Elections don’t only happen in even years. In fall 2017, CTCL’s Ballot Information Project was in full-swing covering statewide elections in New Jersey and Virginia, as well as every election in cities with a population over 130,000 people.

With a smaller volume of data to collect, our Civic Data Team was able to use the odd-year election as an opportunity to develop and refine our internal systems while also providing data to partners including FirstVote North Carolina, We Vote, and Rock the Vote.

We were delighted that thousands of voters were able to learn what was on their ballot through tools powered by our data. And are looking forward to using our new internal systems to grow our 2018 data offerings.

Curious about what elections we’re supporting in 2018? Find out about data releases (and other CTCL happenings) on our Events page.

Building tools for election officials

In addition to providing professional development opportunities for election officials, CTCL’s Government Services team helps election officials use free and low-cost tools to promote civic engagement and make voting easier. The Election Toolkit is an online home for a variety of resources that meet this need.

In partnership with software developer Mark Pelczarski, and with support from the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, we collected data in November 2017 that will power a new tool in the Election Toolkit: the voting time estimator. The voting time estimator will help election officials understand how long it will take a voter to cast a ballot based on the number and types of races and issues that are on the ballot. This type of data will allow election officials to make resource allocation decisions to minimize voter wait times at polling places.

Accurate estimations require lots of quality data. To refine voting time estimations we recruited 8 jurisdictions to measure the time voters spent with a variety of different ballot styles in November 2017. Overall, we gathered 4,816 voting times from 45 polling places. This data, along with others from past elections, will power this new tool which is scheduled to be added to the Toolkit is Spring 2018.

Curious about other other free and low-cost tools for election officials? Visit electiontools.org.

Growing our team

At CTCL our small but mighty team is getting less small and more mighty. In 2017 we added three new positions.

In January, Victoria Nguyen joined our team as our Government Services outreach associate. Victoria has developed beautiful digital and print content to spread the word about our Government Services work and is the lead on our training outreach strategy.

We welcomed Henry Chan as our Civic Data research associate in August of 2017. Henry became a full-time staff member after nearly a year as a research fellow on the Civic Data team. Henry keeps our Governance Project dataset fresh year-round and will be leading our 2018 Ballot Information Project collection efforts.

And in January 2018 Noma Thayer joined our team as operations manager. Noma will be the lead on CTCL internal operations, making sure that we run like a well-oiled machine.

This growth was made possible in part by renewed general operating support in 2017 from both the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Democracy Fund. Each foundation committed up to $500,000 over two years.

Do you want to join the CTCL team? We’re currently hiring a Civic Data Research Associate.

Keeping up the momentum in 2018

Our team has hit the ground running in 2018. From our third annual ballot data convening to our February online training series, we’re already delivering 2018 content to modernize how local government and communities interact.

And we have a lot in store. Stay tuned for new trainings for election officials on topics including cybersecurity and best practices for automatic voter registration implementation. And be on the lookout for new data releases, including candidate and referenda information all the way down to the special district level this fall.

We’ll be posting updates year-round on our blog and events pages.

Thank you for your continued support!

How We Helped Election Officials Learn in 2017

2017 was a busy year for CTCL’s professional development program. We convened a group of insightful advisors to help steer the direction of our training, offered our first-ever series of online courses, and traveled nationwide to work with election officials in their offices.

All told, we trained more than 300 officials in 15 states!

Follow along as we reflect on a year of visiting new places, meeting new people, and learning together.

By the way, if you’re interested in learning with CTCL in 2018, get in touch with us!

The Advisory Committee

At CTCL, we strive to be reflective. So, to get feedback on our courses and ideas for growth, we put together an Advisory Committee in early 2017, inviting some of the best and brightest in the election field to share perspectives on professional development.

Advisors Toni Pippins-Poole, Grace Wachlarowicz, and Tim Tsujii reviewing course outlines

Advisors Toni Pippins-Poole, Grace Wachlarowicz, and Tim Tsujii reviewing course outlines

Starting with a kickoff meeting in Chicago last March, our Advisors have played an invaluable role in helping us improve our offerings and reach fresh audiences. We owe much of our impact in 2017 to their advice and support.

Harford County, Maryland

When we first spoke with officials from the Harford County Board of Elections at a conference, they shared a challenge that they were dealing with: wanting to improve their website. Soon, we were traveling to Maryland to provide guidance for remodeling their site and advancing their Twitter skills. 

Participants discussing social media strategy in Harford County

Participants discussing social media strategy in Harford County

Since we worked with them, the Harford County Board of Elections Twitter account has become known for its fun and engaging content, even being recognized in an ElectionLine article.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis and Minnesota are known for being ahead of the curve when it comes to election administration. So, when we worked with Minneapolis’s Elections and Voter Services Division, we helped the staff build upon an already strong foundation of skills regarding social media, data, and communicating online.

Officials in Minneapolis learning how to work with datasets

Officials in Minneapolis learning how to work with datasets

In the months following our social media course, the Division’s Twitter account has more than doubled its number of followers and, like Harford County, was spotlighted in ElectionLine.

Summer School

Held in July and August, our online series of Summer School courses was our breakout success of 2017. The courses brought together over 100 election officials from jurisdictions as big as Dallas County, Texas (population: 2.6 million) and as small as Houghton, Michigan (population: 8,000). 

We were excited to see how the low cost and convenience of online learning can bring people together.

Kurt and Whitney preparing to go live in the Summer School control room

Kurt and Whitney preparing to go live in the Summer School control room

If you missed Summer School, don’t worry: we’re offering the same four courses again this February, and we’re adding two brand new courses: Messages to Motivate Voters and Poll Worker Management Best Practices. 

Check out the details on our Online Series web page

St. Louis County, Missouri

If you’re just getting started with social media, you need to know the basics. But if you have more experience, it’s valuable to get an assessment of your work and guidance to improve. That’s what we provided for the St. Louis County Board of Elections in a custom online course.

Covering Facebook Insights with St. Louis County

Covering Facebook Insights with St. Louis County

Identifying work done well and areas for improvement, we offered lots of ideas to stimulate discussion and help the Board get more from its social media outreach.

Edwards County, Kansas

Until September, Edwards County was one of many small, rural counties without a website to provide civic information to the public. Using the website template created by CTCL, we helped the Edwards County Clerk set up web infrastructure and discussed best practices for civic communication online. 

Working with the Edwards County Clerk’s office staff

Working with the Edwards County Clerk’s office staff

Since its launch, www.edwardscountyelections.org has been the subject of local media coverage and has received thousands of page views.

San Francisco, California

We rounded out 2017 with a trip to the West Coast, training large groups of election officials at the San Francisco Department of Elections. To meet the needs of the Department, we prepared an in-depth, tailored course on using election data and joined it with shorter sessions on social media and accessible communication. 

Discussing accessible communication with officials in San Francisco

Discussing accessible communication with officials in San Francisco

Participants appreciated getting to create customized maps using San Francisco data, and we felt privileged to work with such a big group of dedicated election folks. 

What’s next 

With 2017 in the rearview mirror, we’re excited to continue cultivating our professional development courses and expand our curricula in this midterm election year. 

It’s our goal to reach new groups of curious election officials in 2018, and we’re hoping to see you in our classroom -- whether it’s online or face to face -- in the months ahead. 

Job: Civic Data Research Associate - Applications Closed

Position: Civic Data Research Associate
Benefits: Vision, Dental, & Medical Insurance and Cell Phone Reimbursement
Location: Washington, DC strongly preferred
Type: Full Time
Salary: $50,000
Start Date: March 2018

Position Description

The Center for Technology and Civic Life is looking for a Research Associate to join its Civic Data team. The Civic Data team's programs help organize the country’s election information and answer important questions about government and representation. Some examples of the work the Research Associate will do: 

  • Collect, maintain, and ensure the quality of CTCL’s civic datasets, including ballot and elected official information.
  • Develop systems and processes for tracking research progress and timelines.
  • Manage a short-term team of election fellows to hit our data collection goals in a fast-paced and intense period of time.
  • Develop new datasets and original research for projects that further the organization’s mission.
  • Other duties assigned by the Director of Civic Data.

The Research Associate will be joining a small distributed team, and will report to the Director of Civic Data.

Responsibilities

  • Research. Lead efforts in maintaining and expanding existing elected official and candidate datasets.
  • Dataset Development. Work with the Director of Civic Data to create new datasets and fulfill other civic data contracts as necessary.
  • Quality Assurance. Develop and implement systems to ensure the accuracy of CTCL’s civic data.
  • People Management. Manage a team of short-term election research fellows to hit our research and quality assurance goals.
  • Communication. Clearly communicate with other members of the civic data team, with external partners, and with election officials to ensure high quality results.
  • Automation. Create systems and processes for automated collection and maintenance of civic datasets.
  • Writing & Analysis. Work with the Director of Civic Data to create documents and analyses based on civic data program work.

Desired Qualifications

A successful candidate for Research Associate 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.
  • Thrives in an intensive work culture. You are able to handle the pressure of needing to get results given the tight time constraints inherent in working with elections.
  • Strong sense of curiosity. You take delight in immersing yourself in the rabbit hole of civic data and in discovering new, fun facts and edge cases in our work. You are able to stay motivated to produce excellent results when the work gets tedious (as it sometimes will!).
  • Intermediate to Advanced Microsoft Excel skills. You have at least a basic understanding of formulas to manipulate text and execute lookups.
  • Strong people or project management. You have an intense determination to get results, persist when facing roadblocks, and have a deep commitment to learning and improvement. You’re able to quickly build trust, credibility, and goodwill and provide meaningful feedback.

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 free and low-cost 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 https://www.techandciviclife.org/research-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.

CTCL Staff Hits the Road to Collect Voting Time Data on Election Day

For many people, Election Day means heading to the polls to cast their ballots. But for four of CTCL’s staff members, this past Election Day was spent on the road collecting important data on voting times. 

Working toward our goal to create a Voting Time Estimator tool for the Election Toolkit, we visited three metro areas and collected more than 3,300 vote times from 34 polling places. Along the way, we met lots of friendly people and got a feel for what it’s like to vote in the communities we visited.

Denver, Colorado

Executive Director Tiana Epps-Johnson and Donny Bridges, Director of Civic Data, collected data in the Mile High City, Denver. After an easy flight, they used Denver’s new light rail service to get into the city.

Donny and Tiana at the Denver Elections Division office. Photo by Tiana Epps-Johnson.

Donny and Tiana at the Denver Elections Division office. Photo by Tiana Epps-Johnson.

Stationed at the Denver Elections Division office downtown, they were able to watch voters marking ballots while also seeing election workers process ballots and verify signatures. 

Denver’s ballots contained 1-2 school board races and 9-10 initiatives. According to Donny, vote times varied based on voter behavior.

“The average vote time hovered around four minutes,” Donny explains, “with some folks coming in completely prepared and getting out within a minute and others taking much longer in contemplating their choices.”

Even though their focus was on voting times, Tiana and Donny were also struck by Denver’s innovative voting system -- in particular, all the available voting options. Colorado mails ballots to all voters prior to the election, and voters can return them by mail, vote them in person at vote centers, or deposit them using convenient drop boxes.

“Denver is an amazing example of a process that is designed to be as convenient as possible for as many voters as possible,” Tiana observes. “You can even get a ballot to-go on Election Day as long as you return it to a drop box by the time polls close!”

Donny was especially charmed by a drop box that was set up in the middle of a road downtown for drivers (and cyclists!) to use. “Although, I didn’t envy the poor poll workers who had to stand out there in the sub-freezing weather!” he says. 

All told, Tiana, Donny, and a few Elections Division staff members collected over 270 voting times -- all while managing to avoid frostbite. 

St. Louis County, Missouri

Road tripping in a rental car, Director of Government Services Whitney May traveled to St. Louis County, Missouri, where she visited 20 (!) polling places. Data collection here was performed by a team of 20 high school students who were organized and trained by Board of Elections staff. 

Driving around St. Louis County, Whitney met with each student, answered their questions about the project and about using the Voting Timer App, and reminded them about data collection protocols. 

She was impressed with their dedication and thoughtfulness.

“Every high school student who collected data in St. Louis County was absolutely fantastic,” Whitney emphasizes. “They were professional, curious, and focused on their task. All of the students recognized the value of being a poll worker, whether it was for compensation, community service hours, or college application materials.”

Tyreese Jones and Clair Osterhaus -- two of the high school students Whitney worked with in St. Louis County. Photo by Whitney May.

Tyreese Jones and Clair Osterhaus -- two of the high school students Whitney worked with in St. Louis County. Photo by Whitney May.

Ballots in St. Louis County were focused on referenda, including either one or two initiatives per ballot. Whitney noted that the average voting time was about 30 seconds, while turnout was a bit over 10%. 

In between visiting polling places, Whitney participated in a Facebook Live video broadcast alongside Democratic Director of Elections Eric Fey and Charles Stewart III of MIT to talk about the Voting Time Estimator project. 

Something that Whitney observed about St. Louis County is an emphasis on carrying out election procedures in a bipartisan way.

“Polling places are staffed with members of both major political parties,” Whitney reports, “and election results are returned to the election office by a 2-member team: 1 person from each party. Both major political parties are also explicitly represented in full-time staff at the election office.”

Ultimately, St. Louis County’s army of high school data collectors gathered an incredible 2,800 vote times, playing a huge role in helping us reach our data goals. 

Providence County, Rhode Island

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, Government Services Associate Kurt Sampsel visited three suburban towns in Providence County, Rhode Island to time voters. Enjoying the pretty autumn sights of New England, Kurt started in East Providence, then drove to Lincoln, and then to Scituate, visiting a total of six polling places. 

At each polling place, Kurt introduced himself to poll workers, explained his reason for the visit, and set up at a discreet spot where he could observe voters. Poll workers kindly offered him coffee, cookies, and homemade treats that helped him keep his energy up during the 13-hour day. 

In addition to friendly poll workers, Kurt enjoyed the opportunity to meet Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea at a polling place in East Providence. 

“Secretary Gorbea has done a lot to encourage civic pride and make voting easier in the state,” Kurt explains, “and she was quite supportive of my data collection work and curious about what it would reveal.”

Kurt with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. Photo by Rob Rock.

Kurt with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. Photo by Rob Rock.

The East Providence ballot was the largest one that Kurt timed, with six referenda, while the Lincoln and Scituate ballots each had just a single school bond measure. Even with these single-item ballots, Kurt saw strong engagement in both towns. 

He also witnessed the impact of new voting equipment -- especially the electronic poll books -- on the voting experience. 

“Every single poll worker I spoke to, whether young or old, loves the new e-poll books,” Kurt says, “and voters liked the surprise of not having to sort themselves by last name when approaching the check-in table, like with the paper poll books. In the entire day, I’m not sure I saw a single hiccup at any of the check-in stations.”

At the end of the day, Kurt had timed 292 voters, with average times of about 2.3 minutes in East Providence and 29 seconds in Lincoln and Scituate. 

Nationwide

While we were out collecting voting time data, volunteers around the country were doing the same in their own jurisdictions. In addition to the locations we visited, we received Election Day data from dedicated volunteers in the following places:

  • Inyo County, California
  • Cleveland County, North Carolina
  • Hunterdon County, New Jersey
  • Alexandria, Virginia
  • Arlington, Virginia

Together, this data will help us move forward with our goal of collecting 25,000 vote times for at least 500 unique ballots.

Thanks to all the election officials who participated in this research project to help improve the voting process. Your data collection efforts are powering a free tool that will be available to benefit all election officials in 2018. 

Would you like to host us for data collection in 2018? Or, would you like to collect data yourself? We’d love to talk with you. Email Kurt at kurt@techandciviclife.org to start the conversation.

Job: Operations Manager - Application Closed

Position: Operations Manager
Benefits: Vision, Dental, & Medical Insurance and Cell Phone Reimbursement
Location: Strong preference for Chicago, IL although remote locations may be considered
Type: Full Time
Salary: $60,000 - $70,000
Start Date: January 2018

Position Description

The Operations Manager will be responsible for leading our operational, financial, and administrative functions; overseeing and maintaining a set of internal functions that make it easier for us to hit our goals and for staff to thrive; and serving as the primary go-to for organizational problem solving. This position will report directly to the Executive Director.

Responsibilities

Lead our operational, financial, and administrative functions

  • Lead all administrative and operations activities to ensure smooth day-to-day functioning.
  • Oversee human resource activities, including payroll processing and benefits management.
  • Perform day-to-day financial management, including: processing cash receipts; paying invoices, coding expenses and reimbursements; and closing monthly books with accountant.
  • Manage contract accountant, independent auditors, and banking relationships. Lead our annual audit. 
  • Ensure we are in full legal compliance by maintaining an open line with our lawyers and proactively looking for and flagging potential trouble spots.
  • Manage supplies and equipment.
  • Provide support to the Executive Director in management of vendor relationships, contracts, and records.

Ensure organizational effectiveness

  • Coordinate annual review process.
  • Play a key role in developing agendas for our two annual staff meetings.
  • Coordinate logistics and materials for staff meetings, board meetings, annual convenings or conferences led by the civic data and government services teams, and other events as needed. 
  • Serve as the hub of our talent needs by coordinating searches and helping hiring managers identify and recruit great people to join our team.
  • Institutionalize onboarding and off-boarding best practices and materials.
  • Create and maintain various management documents, including our employee manual, job descriptions, training plans, and organizational chart.
  • Support the Executive Director in developing internal processes and driving culture shifts as we grow and mature as an organization.

Serve as the go-to for organizational problem solving

  • Proactively spot and resolve ad hoc challenges that arise. 
  • Serve as a thought-partner to our Executive Director and senior leadership team in identifying and resolving organizational or individual challenges as they arise. 
  • Identify additional ways in which we could improve and take on other responsibilities as we grow.

Desired Qualifications

A successful candidate for the Operations Manager position 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. Even if you aren’t sure but are excited about the position, we encourage you to apply! 

  • Solutions-oriented: You proactively develop solutions to challenges and push to get past roadblocks.
  • Ownership and hustle: You care deeply about getting results, and you do what it takes to get them, including, anticipating problems, offering creative solutions, driving work forward, and course-correcting when needed.
  • Strong attention to detail: You pay close attention to detail and ensure that any task or work product - big or small - is thorough and accurate.
  • Inclusive: You connect with people from all kinds of backgrounds and make sure everyone feels like they belong here.
  • Strong customer service orientation: You make it easier for staff to do their own jobs. You view your work as supporting the whole by helping to make their lives as easy and straightforward as possible
  • Integrity: You can be trusted with confidential organizational and staff information.

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 free and low-cost 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 https://www.techandciviclife.org/operations-manager-application and email your resume to operations@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.

CTCL Advisor, Ricky Hatch, Recognized in Utah as County Auditor of the Year

Weber County Clerk/Auditor Ricky Hatch was recently recognized as the 2017 County Auditor of the Year by the Clerk/Auditors Association of Utah (CAAU) . CAAU is a membership organization of Utah’s elected county clerks and auditors that honors stand-out members each year.

Ricky Hatch wearing a suit and tie

Ricky is an active member of the election community at the local, state, federal, and international level. He absolutely loves working in elections and, through his years of public service, he knows the value of a strong team. “The real kudos go to the Weber County Clerk/Auditor team”, Ricky says. “Because they are so good at what they do, I can devote a little time helping to promote activities, issues, and training at the state and federal level.”

In addition to being a member of the Executive Board of the International Association of Government Officials, Ricky also serves on the CTCL Advisory Committee. Fellow CTCL Advisor and Forsyth County Director of Elections, Tim Tsujii adds, "Ricky is most deserving of this recognition. I hold him in the highest regard for his insight and dedication to advancing the field of elections administration.”  

From using tech solutions that streamline Weber County staff communication to working with federal agencies to keep elections secure, Ricky is an innovative and thoughtful leader. CTCL is proud to have him share his expertise on our Advisory Committee. Congratulations, Ricky!

CTCL Helps Edwards County, Kansas Build a New Election Website

Residents of Edwards County, Kansas have a new online home for important civic information thanks to the efforts of the Edwards County Clerk’s office and the Center for Technology and Civic Life. 

Located in central Kansas, Edwards County has a population of about 3,000 people. The county seat, Kinsley, is known as Midway U.S.A. for its position exactly halfway between New York City and San Francisco on historic U.S. Route 50.

Before working with us, the Edwards County Clerk’s office didn’t provide any election information online, meaning that locals had to either visit the office in person or go to the Kansas Secretary of State’s website to get information. But County Clerk Gina Schuette and Deputy Clerk Stephanie Brake knew that creating an informative, user-friendly website could really benefit voters.

Go team! L-R: Stephanie Brake, Krysten Brake, Kurt Sampsel, Gina Schuette, and Whitney May.

Go team! L-R: Stephanie Brake, Krysten Brake, Kurt Sampsel, Gina Schuette, and Whitney May.

Gina and Stephanie learned about our Building a New Election Website course in May, when CTCL’s Whitney May and Kurt Sampsel presented at the annual conference of the Kansas County Clerks and Election Officials Association in Manhattan, Kansas. 

Before long, Whitney and Kurt were traveling to Kinsley to help the Clerk’s office get started setting up the website template and filling it with content.

The website template is designed to meet the needs of both election officials and voters. Based on research about how voters look for civic information online, the template prioritizes answers to voters’ top questions and incorporates principles of plain design and plain language. The template is also mobile friendly, making it easy to use on a smartphone or tablet. Plus, it’s easy for election staff to maintain throughout election cycles.

Working with Gina, Stephanie, and Clerk II Krysten Brake, we got the new Edwards County Elections website ready in just 2 days. 

The original County Clerk page (L) compared to the new Edwards County Elections site (R)

The original County Clerk page (L) compared to the new Edwards County Elections site (R)

Now, visitors can quickly and easily find what’s on the ballot, view election results, locate their polling place, and more. 

In addition to helping the Clerk’s staff set up the website infrastructure, we covered best practices in civic communication, introduced basic web analytics, and helped the staff create a new Facebook Page for the Clerk’s office

Edwards County is the latest jurisdiction to join our growing list of election authorities that are using our website template. Moving forward, we’re excited to work with more officials in Kansas and beyond to help them create straightforward, effective election websites to better serve their communities.

Do you need to build a new election website, or would you like to make improvements to your current one? We’d love to help. Get in touch at courses@techandciviclife.org to tell us about your needs.

Election Officials: Get Involved with National Voter Registration Day

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 is National Voter Registration Day. Over 2,000 groups will be organizing to register voters nationwide, and to be successful, they need the support of state and local election officials.

Held every September, National Voter Registration Day calls attention to the importance of registering to vote and helps people get registered. Since 2012, over 1.4 million people have registered or updated their registrations thanks to the efforts of thousands of #NationalVoterRegistrationDay volunteers and partners. 

NVRD logo.png

The work of community groups is at the heart of the holiday, but election officials have an important role to play, too. 

National Voter Registration Day’s organizers emphasize 3 things that election offices can do -- some big, some small -- to help make this year’s registration events successful:

  1. Sign up to be a partner. Being a partner means giving support and leadership to the groups that are participating in registration events. You can sign up to be a partner at the NVRD website.
  2. Encourage your community members to get involved. Chances are good that you know many people and groups with an enthusiasm for civic engagement. Encourage them to get involved, and spread the word through your local media. The NVRD website has a press release template to help you get started.
  3. Promote National Voter Registration Day on social media. Tell your audience about the importance of voter registration and let them know about registration events on Twitter, Facebook, and all of your social media channels. Use the hashtag #NationalVoterRegistrationDay, and for sample posts, graphics, and other helpful resources, check out the NVRD partner toolkit.

When election officials get involved with National Voter Registration Day, everyone benefits.

As an official, trusted source of civic information in your community, you can empower participants and support civic engagement. At the same time, by doing your part to ensure registrations are completed correctly and submitted on time, you’ll be helping your fellow election officials by working to make processing registrations easier.

For more information, visit the National Voter Registration Day website. Be sure to follow the holiday on social media, too!

CTCL’s Summer School Brings Together Election Officials from Coast to Coast

This past July and August, CTCL offered for the first time our professional development courses for election officials in a convenient online classroom. To put the courses in the reach of everyone, we made them just $30.00. 

Even though it was our first time delivering curricula online, our Summer School program was a big success, bringing together over 100 participants from California to Rhode Island and everywhere in between.

Title slide from our Accessible Communication course

Title slide from our Accessible Communication course

CTCL has been offering professional development courses since our founding in 2015, but before Summer School, they were only provided in person at election offices. While the personal touch can be great, these in-person courses bring travel and lodging expenses, and they require participants to take hours away from their normal work.

We’ve known that quick, affordable, online courses could help us bring our training to more people. 

In late spring of this year, with the guidance and insight of our Advisory Committee, we prepared condensed, 90-minute versions of our most popular courses, selected a price, and started to promote them. We also created engaging, shareable videos and graphics to help spread the word through social media. 

Screenshot from one of the Summer School promotional videos

Screenshot from one of the Summer School promotional videos

We offered the 4 courses on successive Wednesdays in July and August at 1:00 p.m. Central, hoping to involve participants from all time zones. For our video conferencing platform, we used Zoom, a straightforward program that allowed us to share slides, send polls, chat with participants, and produce video recordings for later reference. 

Not knowing how much engagement we’d get, we initially decided that if 5-10 people would sign up for each of our 4 courses, we’d declare Summer School a success. But ultimately, we ended up with 10 times that number: our most popular course had 74 participants, and even our least-attended course brought in 47 people. 

We were pretty excited.

Who were the participants? Our 102 students came from 34 county offices, 8 municipal offices, and 3 state offices that administer elections for, in total, over 17 million American voters. 

Big election authorities like Dallas County, Texas (with 1.29 million registered voters) attended Summer School, as did small jurisdictions like the city of Houghton, Michigan (home to 3,056 registered voters).

Our Summer School participants joined us from across the country

Our Summer School participants joined us from across the country

Responses to the courses have been positive, with many participants sharing plans to immediately use what they learned.

“I loved the courses,” stated one participant, adding, “I am already applying tools I learned from Summer School.”

“I have never experienced such an interactive webinar,” another participant shared, explaining, “My coworker and I were so inspired, we have made a weekly game plan to address our Website to make it more assessable.”

With the positive experience of Summer School behind us, we’re already thinking about plans for future online courses. We hope to offer these same 4 courses again in the winter or spring of 2018, and in addition, we’re in the process of developing new curricula based on feedback that we’ve received. 

Stay tuned for details as we prepare to expand our online course offerings. To share your ideas or requests for future courses, email us at courses@techandciviclife.org.