Free and Low-cost Tech Tools Will Help Promote Civic Engagement Nationwide
Chicago, IL—This election year, election officials will have a new collection of tech tools to help them engage their communities in the electoral process and improve how elections are run throughout the U.S. The Election Toolkit, an online library of tech resources, includes tools like a Twitter guide, a free app to measure voter wait times, tools for publishing real-time election results, and a collection of civic icons.
All of the tools in the Toolkit are either free or low cost and come paired with step-by-step instructions, making them accessible to any election official, regardless of their budget or technical ability.
“Understanding how to use digital tools is key to effectively communicating things like law changes and deadlines to voters. And using data can help make sure that every voter’s experience is seamless,” says Tiana Epps-Johnson, Executive Director at the Center for Technology and Civic Life. “While technology can’t solve every problem, we see the Toolkit as a resource that any election office can use to manage and publish their really rich information in ways that communities have come to expect.”
Local election officials play a vital role in the civic life of their communities, but their work is often restrained by outdated technology and tight budgets. Recognizing a need for new tech resources in elections, the Center for Technology and Civic Life, a nonprofit based in Chicago, devised the Election Toolkit for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s News Challenge on Elections, which funds ideas that better inform voters and increase civic participation. The Election Toolkit was named one of 22 winners of the Knight News Challenge in July 2015.
To assemble and design the Toolkit, the Center for Technology and Civic Life – along with project partners the Center for Civic Design, the Cook County (IL) Clerk, the Hillsborough County (FL) Supervisor of Elections, and the Inyo County (CA) Clerk-Recorder-Registrar – called upon the experience and expertise of local election officials.
The Toolkit partners asked election officials from around the country about their goals and challenges and about the kinds of technologies that they wish they had. After narrowing down their ideas, the officials provided feedback to shape the look and feel of the Toolkit website, and they participated in usability testing to ensure that the Toolkit would be intuitive to its target audience. The website went live on June 16.
With a heated presidential election coming in November, the Election Toolkit is launching at a time when election administration is increasingly under the spotlight. By advancing the important work of election officials, the Toolkit will also help to improve the voter experience nationwide.
Read more about the Election Toolkit at www.electiontools.org.
Read more about the work of the Center for Technology and Civic Life at www.techandciviclife.org.
Tiana Epps-Johnson, Executive Director
Center for Technology and Civic Life
Phone: (872) 588-6843