It was the summer of 2013. Our team was transitioning from managing the Voting Information Project (VIP), a project that works with states to provide official information to voters. During our time with VIP we traveled to state capitals where we gathered with enterprising public leaders from New Jersey to Wisconsin to Oklahoma and beyond. Our team saw huge advances in state data programs and tools that connect people to the civic information they need to participate in elections.
We also saw people hustling in local offices. We witnessed city election boards striving to keep pace with technology and county clerks collecting data to increase voter satisfaction in their communities. We wondered how we might leverage our institutional knowledge and tech savvy to build something meaningful with local governments across the country.
In July of 2013 our team started a program called ELECTricity, a learning community of local election administrators who improve elections by using technology and sharing best practices. Over the past 18 months, with your help, we’ve created connections and technology that are making a positive impact on election administration.
- Featured best practices from fourteen local election offices in our monthly newsletter.
- Published original tutorials on Twitter and Excel.
- Produced a free webinar on how to use the line optimization tool endorsed by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA).
- With funding from the Democracy Fund, we built five local election websites that are responsive, accessible, and have content written in plain language.
ELECTricity has incubated at the New Organizing Institute (NOI) in Washington, DC since its inception. NOI brought the team together, generously supported our growth, and challenged us to plan fast and big.
As we dive deeper into collaborating with local government, our team is setting up shop in Chicago where we are launching a new non-profit organization.
Introducing the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL). CTCL, or the Center, focuses on increasing civic participation by modernizing engagement between local government and the people they serve.
CTCL programs have three major components:
- Training local government on how to use technology to enhance the civic livelihood of their communities;
- Developing free and low-cost tools with government; and
- Aggregating civic data sets and developing infrastructure that enables the flow of information and interactions between government and the people they are serving.
The Center is a team of non-partisan local government geeks. Our work lives at the intersection of technology and civic impact.
We are making this leap because we believe in the work. We believe in the power of creating better government with you. Can you still expect to hear from us every month? You bet.
Be on the look out for a new email address: email@example.com. CTCL will continue the ELECTricity program, including our monthly newsletter featuring local election best practices and our tech tutorials. Also, ELECTricity is expanding services this year.
In 2015 ELECTricity plans to:
- Expand the reach of the election website project by creating an online toolbox for local election administrators that includes video training modules.
- Deploy the data services playbook for local election offices so they might use data to optimize the voter experience and advocate for resources they need.
Thank you for all of your support of our program thus far. The future is exciting! What do you want to accomplish this year? How are you gearing up for the General Election in 2016? What challenges stand in your way?