Beautiful tools for promoting civic engagement

You’re feeling it, we know: There are just 145 days until Election Day 2016. There’s a lot to do. How about some new tools to help you be even more amazing than you already are?

Your wishes are answered by a new website built for election officials by election officials (along with a few election design nerds).

Read on.

The wish list was long. When the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) and our own Whitney Quesenbery and Nancy Frishberg  convened a gathering of election officials in Chicago in December 2015 (brrrr), and asked “what are your most pressing needs,” well, there were a lot.

There were 19 election officials there. Collectively, they serve more than 7 million registered voters. CTCL had already collected 50 ideas from online submissions. Those plus the ideas from the workshop came to 327 tools on the wish list.

Workshops brought with them even more ideas.

Generous as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s News Challenge on Elections was, the gathering needed to pare down the list of tools. So, there was, of course, a voting exercise.

So CTCL, with the Center for Civic Design, and partners Hillsborough County (Florida) Supervisor of Elections, Inyo County (California) Clerk-Recorder-Registrar, and the Suburban Cook County (Illinois) Clerk, met up (sensibly, in Florida in January 2016) to design the Election Toolkit. The Toolkit is a beautiful website designed by Oxide Design Co. (longtime partners of the Center for Civic Design) that holds a collection of free (or cheap) tools that are built for you to use to increase civic engagement — turnout, voter registration — and to smooth operations in polling places.

When the site launched on June 16, there are 11 fantastic tools:

  • voter wait time measurement
  • infographic design
  • election website template
  • Twitter guide
  • polling place reporting
  • making voter ed videos
  • recruiting young people to work elections
  • voter registration
  • basic web analytics
  • text messaging
  • icons and images

Each starts with a recipe, of sorts that lists what you’ll need, the level of technical skills required, and the time it will take to make the tool work. The best part, though, is that each comes with excellent, clear, easy-to-follow instructions.

Try all the tools!




In getting ready for the 2016 Presidential election, you might also want to have a look at these goodies:

Field Guides To Ensuring Voter Intent

Vol. 05 Choosing how to communicate with voters (a nice companion to the Twitter guide in the Toolkit)

Vol. 07 Designing election department websites and Vol. 09 Creating accessible online information (they pair well with the basic web analytics in the Toolkit)

Vol. 08 Guiding voters through the polling place (use with the voter wait time tool in the Toolkit)

Also, check out our Showcase for before-and-after projects done by election officials just like you. It includes examples of absentee ballot packages, voter registration forms, provisional ballot envelopes, and more.


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