It’s time to let you in on a little secret. You probably know us as TurboVote, but the nonprofit’s real name is Democracy Works. Running the TurboVote service is still a big part of our work, but we’ve spent the past few months growing the team at Democracy Works (now at 18 staff!) in order to launch the next phase of our strategy: working directly with local and state governments to modernize voting.

Where’s my ballot?

I’m excited to announce that the Democracy Fund awarded us a two-year, $500,000 grant in part to build a ballot tracking tool for election officials. You can read more about it—and meet our new Director of Government Services, Monica Crane Childers—in a recent story on the Electionline website.

In our research last year, election administrators told us they wanted more insight into (and control over) what happens to the ballots they send through the postal system, so that’s our first task. This tool will also help officials implement one of the recommendations made by the President’s Commission on Election Administration: safeguards for mail balloting, including tracking absentee ballots so voters can verify the status of their vote.

We’re working with election offices in Martin County FL, Boone County MO, and Johnson County KS to design and develop the ballot tracker, and we’re still recruiting additional election offices to our advisory brain trust. The tool itself is coming along nicely, but now we need your help to give it a name. To submit your suggestions, fill out our handy form—and thanks!

Powering voting information for all 50 states

As Katy noted in our last update, we’re working for the Pew Charitable Trusts on the Voting Information Project to build the only complete dataset of every polling place in the US. It’s vital work and an invaluable learning experience. We’re looking under the hood at election offices across the country and meeting the public servants who make our democracy run.

And I’m happy to announce that we’ve finished hiring our team, with Noma Thayer joining as VIP Data Technologist and Maria Bianchi joining as VIP Government Outreach Coordinator.

Free (beautiful) websites for county election officials

Again, thanks to a $50,000 collaboration grant from the Democracy Fund, we’re working with ELECTricity, Dana Chisnell, and the Sunlight Foundation to build a free, easy-to-use website template designed specifically for election offices. The talented team at ELECTricity are taking the lead, but we’re very excited to participate and see where this goes.

Stay tuned for news about our college work

Though this update was all about government, we have a major announcement coming soon about TurboVote’s work with colleges and universities. Expect to hear from us again soon!