electionlineWeekly: CTCL’s Whitney May on Data, Technology Resources and Training for Election Offices

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[Image courtesy of techandciviclife.org]

This week’s electionlineWeekly has a piece by Whitney May of the Center for Technology and Civic Life describing CTCL’s wide range of services aimed at helping election offices keep abreast of and master new technology tools, especially online:

“How did you get started in election administration?” is my favorite question for election officials.

I’ve heard from dozens of folks who entered the profession by accident, on a dare, and via other local government departments like the tax office, microfilm, or accounts receivable.

For me, election administration came by way of a goat farm and a manure spreader.

When I started as an Election Specialist III for the Durham County Board of Elections in August of 2007, I knew that I wanted to do a good job for my county. But I wasn’t sure of the exact steps to make that happen.

I had no idea how the precinct official appointment process worked or what provisional ballots were. But I was clear on my commitment to learn the law and to be helpful to the community. Some may call that dedication. My parents called it stubbornness.

As a new county employee, I had zero formal training on how to be an election administrator. After starting, I attended conferences each year, where I listened to state election officials, other local administrators, and academics speak about voter registration databases and election legislation.

When it came to our election website, data tools, and social media outreach, I was learning on the job, often by trial and error. Sadly, the Field Guides from the Center for Civic Design didn’t exist then. And so I just did my best, reading electionline every morning and hoping not to see a news story about Durham County.

Technology didn’t tackle all of our challenges at the election office, but it did streamline important processes, including precinct official payroll. I spent a lot of my time at the election office wrestling with Microsoft Excel and our county website platform. I imagine many election officials have similar grievances.

Frustration with technology can be disheartening and can interfere with delivering services to voters and other stakeholders. That’s why we started the ELECTricity network in 2013 and, most recently, why we launched the first-of-its kind training for local election officials.

Our goal is to teach local election officials tech skills so they can run the best elections for their jurisdiction. One way we do that is through ELECTricity’s professional development program in building and maintaining an election website.

Following the success of the election website pilot project in 2014 and online prototype testing earlier this year, we created new learning opportunities for local election officials who want to build an effective election website with a modern look and feel.

2016 is around the corner. Find the training that best fits your office’s needs and register soon. We offer three different learning approaches to choose from:

Currently nine jurisdictions across the country have completed the training and are using our website template to publish their election information and connect with voters online. Are you ready to gain new skills and modernize your website in advance of the 2016 elections? Sign up for a tech training today.

Technology is for everyone — from rural to urban jurisdictions, from senior administrators to newbies. We believe that all election officials who are committed to learning new skills to improve their jurisdiction should have the opportunity to do so. Because we are a nonprofit organization, we can cover some or all training costs for offices that qualify.

The services that CTCL is offering are invaluable to the field, given that web design and other tech skills are now “must have” in election offices. Thanks to electionline’s Mindy Moretti for sharing this story (and for being such a reliable source of blog content!) – and of course thanks to Whitney, who along with everyone at CTCL is doing vital work in elections. If you have more questions about CTCL, tech training – even, perhaps, manure spreaders? – contact her at whitney@techandciviclife.org.

1 Comment on "electionlineWeekly: CTCL’s Whitney May on Data, Technology Resources and Training for Election Offices"

  1. good view about technology

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