Civic engagement is a powerful tool to drive change—for the future of software and in the world at large. In this post, Software Engineer and GitHub Senior Director of Strategic Programs, Kyle Daigle, shares his experience volunteering at his local election office.
When I was 13 years old, a few officials from my town’s election office came to my high school looking for some technical support. They wanted help updating a Microsoft Access database to print out voter lists that would be used to check off voters at the polls. I didn’t have any experience with Microsoft Access, but I figured it out. And I was able to make several new reports for use in that election.
After this tiny project’s success, I built a PHP website that allowed residents in my hometown to look up their voter registration status. All that time ago, this chance encounter impacted my life in a huge way. First, I found my future career in software. Second, I found a passion for supporting election rights and access.
Nearly every year since then, I’ve gone back to my hometown to work my local election in the Registrar of Voters office. Elections are generally run by citizen poll workers. Counties and states are always looking for more volunteers—and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they are especially short this year. In a survey after the 2016 election, nearly 65% of jurisdictions reported that it was “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult” to obtain a sufficient number of poll workers. Of those poll workers, 32% were between the ages of 61 and 70 and 24% were 71 or older.
With the global pandemic impacting those over 60 at far higher rates, it’s expected that the upcoming United States election in November will need many more poll workers to both secure the election and ensure fair and reasonable access. Our experience as software developers can make it easier to learn election technology systems, keep elections on track and moving smoothly, and ensure your neighbors have the right to vote.
Today, I’m asking you to check and ensure you’re registered to vote in the upcoming election. Register online and find out where you need to vote.
I also invite you to join me and other GitHubbers by volunteering as a poll worker on Election Day. Find more information about becoming a poll worker.
September 22, 2020 is #NationalVoterRegistrationDay. Get registered so you can vote in the 2020 U.S. General Election! Kyle’s story is part of a series of articles covering the U.S Elections. Read our first post: “Ready to vote in the U.S. 2020 elections?”