Daily Resource Highlight - 07/11/2022

Posted by on July 11, 2022 at 5:03 PM

Below are the highlights and featured resources of this past week’s Daily* Resource.

July 5, 2022 - Let’s Keep the Positivity Flowing – All-America City Awards

A few weeks ago, Sachi Bajaj and I presented the American Civic Collaboration Awards (Civvys) at the Civic Season in Atlanta, GA. It was an opportunity to bask in positivity and effective activism at a time when so much feels out of our control.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like another wave of endorphins, and the National Civic League (NCL) is ready to provide with the 73rd (!!!) Annual All-America City Awards on July 21st @ 7:30 PM ET. The focus of this year’s awards were communities that helped their youngest students recover from the educational damage caused by the pandemic – especially those in economically difficult conditions. Finalists represent 15 states from coast to coast, and communities ranging from 4,500 to nearly 4 million residents.

What’s even cooler is that, on July 21st @ 3:30 PM ET, NCL has set aside time for finalists to meet with community leaders from other parts of the nation to explain their award-worthy initiatives and answer questions. This is an incredible opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of proven models for success so that you can implement them in your own community.

So whether you’re a community leader yourself or simply want to feel inspired once again, make sure to register for this excellent event, from the Opening Ceremony to the Keynote Address to the Awards themselves.

And remember, “thinking local” isn’t just a cute idea – it’s absolutely critical to the health of America. Which is why ActiVote has expanded its offerings to allow residents of Minneapolis to track all ordinances passed by City Council and see how their Council Member voted.

Finally, local leaders and institutions are crucial even when talking about national and state level issues. For instance, Convergence’s “Pathways to Better Jobs” Dialogue rests partially on supporting local colleges and job training programs that are “experiencing greater pressure” due to the pandemic, as well as “scal[ing] successful local pilot programs that can have impact at the state or national level.” And we all know how critical local infrastructure is to conducting elections (National Institute for Civil Discourse), which made unprecedented demands on local officials and volunteers in 2020.

July 7, 2022 - Absentee Ballots Today, Electronic Voting Tomorrow?

Most policy choices have trade-offs. For instance, the widespread adoption of no-excuse absentee ballots in 2020 significantly increased election administration costs (NICD). That’s because localities were essentially running three elections – for mail-in, early in-person, and election day voters.

On the other hand, the evidence suggests that mail-in balloting also significantly increases voter turnout (National Vote at Home Institute). This year, states that allowed no-excuse mail-in ballots averaged 32% turnout in their primaries versus 19% turnout for states that required an excuse. So if you believe that low primary turnout is a problem, like Unite America does, then no-excuse absentee ballots may be a key part of the solution.

But what if we take it even further? Could you vote on your laptop or phone in the future? That’s what the Mobile Voting Project (MVP) is aiming for. The upside is obvious – it would make voting that much easier for many Americans. The biggest concern, of course, is cybersecurity. How would we ensure that everybody’s vote is counted properly without compromising on privacy? MVP claims to have the answers with end-to-end verification systems.

As noted above, though, policy choices usually have trade-offs. Beyond the costs of more voting options, there’s the question of faith in our elections. In their proposal for a great voting compromise, Renew Democracy Initiative argues that we need to balance “boosting faith in our electoral process and making it as simple as possible [to vote].” That’s why RDI proposes requiring mail-in ballots to arrive by Election Day and encouraging early in-person voting over absentee voting.

This isn’t to say that RDI’s approach is the right one…or the wrong one. Like with all reform ideas, we aren’t here to tell you what to think or what’s best for America. That’s for you to decide, including and especially when it comes to deciding how Americans should exercise one of their most fundamental rights; the right to vote.