The Town of Greenwich Registrars of Voters are among the first 10 inaugural cohort of Centers for Election Excellence, a recognition that Registrars Fred DeCaro III (R) and Mary Hegarty (D) are committed to leadership in election administration and looking to develop even more resilient, trustworthy, and voter-centric election administration practices.
As a Center for Election Excellence, Greenwich’s Registrars will have an opportunity to join together with a bipartisan group of election officials to support each other and keep their skills fresh. The diverse inaugural 2023 cohort of Centers for Election Excellence include:
• Greenwich, CT
• Contra Costa County, CA
• Shasta County, CA
• Kane County, IL
• Macoupin County, IL
• Ottawa County, MI
• Clark County, NV
• Brunswick County, NC
• Forsyth County, NC
• Madison, WI
Greenwich is currently the only jurisdiction in Connecticut and New England to receive this designation.
The Alliance will provide Hegarty and DeCaro and their staff opportunities to collaborate with and share best practices with their colleagues from around the country, creating a national community of learning and support.
“I am thrilled that after a nationwide call for applications from jurisdictions across the country, we have chosen Greenwich as a Center for Election Excellence,” said Tiana Epps-Johnson, executive director of the Center for Tech and Civic Life. “Greenwich is a leader in safe, secure and inclusive elections that put voters first. I’m thrilled to work with the Greenwich Registrars to take their election administration work to the next level.”
“When I read about the program I immediately contacted Mary and began drafting our application” said DeCaro. “We are always looking at how to improve service to our town. Likewise, we believe we have ideas and best practices to share with our new friends from across the country.”
Just finishing his fourteenth year of service, DeCaro was recently re-elected to an eighth two-year term. During his tenure he has earned a Certificate in Elections Administration from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Government and was in the first class of Registrars to graduate from the CT Registrar Certification Program. DeCaro is also the only current Town of Greenwich elected official or employee to hold the CCMOdesignation as a Certified Connecticut Municipal Official from the CT Conference of Municipalities.
Mary Hegarty was recently re-elected to her third term as Registrar. She brings her background as an attorney to the office and sits on the Registrars of Voters Association of CT (ROVAC) Legislative Committee. Hegarty is also a certified CT Registrar and is completing the coursework for the UMN Certificate Program.
Hegarty said “Fred and I serve as an example of bi-partisan cooperation in election administration. We have an excellent working relationship and although we have different personal views on policy issues, we are united in our dedication to administer fair and open elections. We hope to take advantage of some of the grants available from the Alliance to pilot new programs for recruiting and training poll workers.”
According to a recent study from MIT, public spending on election services ranks near the bottom, about the same as what local governments spend on parking facilities. This means professional development opportunities for election department staff can be extremely limited.
The U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence launched in 2022 and is a five-year, $80 million nonpartisan program that brings together election officials, designers, technologists, and other experts to envision, support, and celebrate excellence in U.S. election administration.
Launch partners include:
• Center for Tech and Civic Life: The Center for Tech and Civic Life connects Americans with the information they need to become and remain civically engaged, and ensure that elections are more inclusive and secure.
• Center for Civic Design: The Center for Civic Design works with elections offices and advocates across the country, using research, design, accessibility, and plain language to remove barriers in the voter journey and invite participation in democracy.
• The Elections Group: The Elections Group partners with state and local election officials looking to implement new programs or improve processes for voters and stakeholders. Their team of election experts works quickly to provide guidance, resources, and direct management support for jurisdictions.
• U.S. Digital Response: U.S. Digital Response is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps governments and organizations respond quickly and efficiently to support the critical needs of the public. Through USDR’s Elections Program, election officials receive simple, effective digital tools and rapid response assistance to meet voters at the speed of need.
• Institute for Responsive Government & Center for Secure and Modern
Elections: The Center for Secure and Modern Elections aligns bipartisan, pro-voter campaigns in states across the country that modernizes the voting system, making elections more efficient and secure.
• Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the d.school) at Stanford University: The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford was founded in 2005 to prepare a generation of innovators to tackle complex challenges.
Referred to as the d.school, the institute brings students and faculty from radically different backgrounds together to develop innovative, human-centered solutions to real world challenges.
• Prototyping Systems Lab: The Prototyping Systems Lab utilizes elements of design thinking, participatory design, and critical making to create change within complex systems.