Center For Tech and Civic Life | 2021

Center For Tech and Civic Life

Strengthening local election administration in the US

CTCL will harness the power of technology to modernize US elections.

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American democracy has long been considered a model for the world. But when voters try to cast their ballots, they often experience unnecessary roadblocks and glitches caused by administrative, logistical or technological gaps. The quality of elections in the US is shaped by hyperlocal budgets, policies and laws — which means there is no standardized voting experience or shared performance expectations. Much of the voter experience lies in the hands of local election officials, and when they don't have the support, guidance and resources they need, voters and the issues they care about pay the price. The US consistently has low registered voter and voter-turnout rates – only two-thirds of the eligible population is registered, and of those who are, 40% don't cast their ballots for reasons related to election administration. These barriers are especially prevalent among constituencies who historically face obstacles to casting their vote — newly eligible voters, those with limited English proficiency, and communities of color.

Big Idea

The Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) will harness the power of technology to modernize the American voting experience, ensuring local election officials have the skills and tools they need to administer inclusive and secure elections. Over the next five years, CTCL will invite election departments across all 50 states to evaluate and improve their operations. They will work with bipartisan election officials to establish common values and standards for election administration and support departments to implement these shared practices. They will also launch a first-of-its-kind program for election departments to promote excellence in election administration. Together, CTCL and its partners will enable a new level of performance for departments serving 240 million voters, the majority of eligible voters in the US.


CTCL's approach leverages shared practices across the field, developed through years of their and their technical partners' collective experience. First, they will bring together bipartisan election officials to co-design and rally around a common set of values and standards of excellence. Next, they will help departments adopt these standards by providing high-touch coaching and practical resources to local election departments that will serve as Centers of Excellence, to demonstrate the full potential of the program. To sustain performance, they will incentivize adoption while advocating for funding and policy changes that support excellence in election administration. In this way, they’ll lay a path for nationwide adoption of these practices.          

Why will this succeed?

Since its launch in 2014, CTCL has trained or provided resources to election officials in nearly 3,000 local election departments nationwide. Data shows that their technical assistance to election departments has improved the voting experience for 74% of the eligible voting population in the US. CTCL's cybersecurity training, which defends voting systems from attack, has been completed by 400 election departments and was purchased by the federal government, making it available to all local election departments across the country. They have built and published the most comprehensive database of US elected officials and election-related data in the country, and their training has received endorsement in both Republican- and Democratic-led states. Through bipartisan partnerships with institutions like the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, they've been able to influence policy and improve the operating environment for election officials. 

Project Impact

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