As technology changes how we navigate the world around us, it’s no surprise that it impacts how we experience elections. Whether it’s lever machines, touch screens, mail ballots or other mechanics, it’s important that we have confidence in our election technology and the voting process.
CTCL’s Executive Director, Tiana Epps-Johnson, and Director of Government Services, Whitney May, attended the 2017 Election Verification Network (EVN) annual conference in Washington, D.C. This year’s conference theme was “Refocus. Renew. Re-Inspire.” While EVN has organized 11 conferences since 2004, this was CTCL’s first time joining the group.
The Election Verification Network brings together election officials, technologists, attorneys, researchers, advocates, and others who are passionate about elections. Together, they “collaborate across disciplines and opinions toward two inseparable goals: voting is accessible, private, reliable and secure; and elections are transparent, accurate and verifiable.”
We put together a panel on how election officials can use data to boost transparency. CTCL was joined by Jennifer Morrell, Deputy of Elections and Recording in Arapahoe County, Colorado, and Kenneth Bennett, IT Manager with Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder-Clerk.
Over the course of our panel, Jennifer discussed her experience publishing wait time data so Arapahoe voters could find the most convenient location to vote. Ken highlighted L.A. County’s use of analytics to make decisions about poll worker recruitment and paper ballot purchases. He also spoke about how simply publishing election data doesn’t automatically equate to transparency and improved processes. Ken advised the audience that it’s critical for the public and election staff to not only have access to data but also understand its context and nuance.
Then Whitney introduced the Election Toolkit and 3 of its data tools that election officials can use to capture data in order to make better decisions about resources and communications. And we wrapped up our panel with a breakout discussion, facilitated by Tiana, about how election offices and advocates can work together to publish data in ways that increase transparency and confidence in elections.
In addition to leading our EVN session we also enjoyed navigating an interactive exhibit set up by Michelle Bishop from the National Disability Rights Network and Gretchen Knauff from the Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities. They created a mock polling place with barriers and asked visitors to identify ways that the polling place could be improved so that it was usable by everyone.
Overall the EVN conference was a great opportunity for us to meet members, network with election geeks, and share the work that CTCL does with a new audience. To learn more about EVN and the 2017 conference, visit their website at electionverification.org and join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #EVN17.