2010 Resolution: Make the Working Groups Work

December 31, 2009

A Message to All EDA Working Group Members

Hello Everyone,

I'm writing to you today with a request and resolution that 2010 be the year
that we finally make the EDA Working Groups work the way we know they can, and should.

We have the people,  the communication channels, and collaborative applications. (See note about New Forums below).

What we need most of all, are active group coordinators to help the groups cohere and get up their own working momentum.

Once group members start working together on projects, members will likely be self-directing.
That's been my experience working in  small groups, and probably yours as well.

But even the most self-initiating of groups have some need for group leadership to organize and rally members.

Call for Candidate Nominations and Coordinator Elections

At present, half of the groups have no coordinators at all.

Several of our current coordinators, who have been in the role since EDA began in July, 2006,  have expressed
the desire to move on and let someone new take over for them.

This transition from the old to new year is the perfect time to choose one (or two) of you to be each group's designated, voting representative(s) to the EDA Coordinating Council for 2010.

As you probably realize, the initial cohort of coordinators were assigned their roles by the EDA co-founders in July 2006, with the expectation that after the November 2006 elections, beginning in the first of the new 2007 year, elections would be held in all the Working Groups and a new council of elected coordinators would be formed.

That never happened.
We were engaged in putting out electoral brush fires.
Getting coordinators elected kept getting moved down the priority list.

But now we have the time and the opportunity for a fresh start.

We would like to have each of the groups choose their representative(s) to the EDA Coordinating Council in January.

Those of you who enjoy facilitating group interaction, please take the initiative.
Announce to your group that you're willing to take on this role.

Before You Say 'No'

"Do I have to be an expert?"

No.  In some of the groups -- for example, Data Analysis, or Legal -- subject expertise is an advantage and is preferred;
but for all of the groups, the primary consideration is your skill and interest in getting a group working together.

"This is too much responsibility for me"

Some of the groups have fewer than 5 members, a very manageable number to start with. Additional recruitment  will be a priority.

Some of the groups have 20 to 40 members.  We encourage the larger groups to elect (or select by whatever process you prefer) two Co-Coordinators to share the responsibilities.

"I won't have the time."

Do you have at least 4 hours a week?  Small increments of time, applied frequently, will accomplish more than you might think.


About Being a Group Coordinator /Co-Coordinator

You will be facilitating an online group of self-selected volunteers who have chosen to promote election integrity by working in a subject area or functional role in which they have interest, skills, and some experience.

This role probably requires a minimum of 4 hours a week to yield noticeable results-- and we would like as much more time and effort as you can comfortably give. Most of this time would be invested in phone and e-mail communication, as well as writing for the website.

Coordinators propose and facilitate collaborative projects contributing to EDA campaign objectives furthering the election integrity cause. (Examples: research, writing, data analysis, event promotion, website production, video and audio production, graphic design, etc.).

Group Coordinators may be electoral subject experts, but ideally they will also have a certain expertise is social group dynamics: Introducing group members to each other, getting to know their interests, cultivating group esprit, and catalyzing productive collaboration among members of the Group.

Familiarity with subject matter particular to the election integrity cause is an advantage, but not a requirement. (You can learn on the job).

What is far more important is your experience, skill, and enjoyment in motivating a group of people to work together.

"OK, I'm willing to give this a try. What do I do now?"

Announce to the group that you're interested in the role.
Ask for their nomination, or nominate yourself.
Post a "candidate's statement" to your Group mail list, outlining what you would like to help the group accomplish.

"This role isn't for me, but I know someone who would be very good at it."

If you know someone interested in election integrity who is eager to organize,  please invite them to join an EDA Working Group and seek nomination.

"When should we choose the group coordinator(s)?"

Ideally by mid-January -- but if it takes longer, take the time you need.
We hope you'll have made your appointments at least by the end of January.


Work to Do

"What should we be doing in the Working Groups?"

This page is a good place to review the general job description for each group:

I have from time to time e-mailed project requests and suggestions to most of the groups.

There is  a folder in every Working Group Forum called "Job Tickets" where work requests are filed.
There's also a folder in every group called "Suggestion Box" where you can propose project ideas.

I'll list just a few ideas for example, here below. 
If you think about your own experience in election integrity advocacy, I'm sure you can think of many more things that need to be done.

Registration and Voting Systems Group:
Monitor the online meeting notes, publications, and announcements of the EAC.
Become familiar with the machine models, software versions, and system architecture of each of the E-voting vendors.

Help research, write, and illustrate content for the website,  EDA brochures, public info handouts, press releases, flyers, etc.  Monitor the press for election integrity news, select and shape it for output as EDA EI newsfeeds.
Provide skilled assistance in desktop publishing, graphic design, and audio and video recording and presentation.

Media and Publicity:

Organize and run an EDA speakers' bureau; write and circulate press releases; prepare podcasts; arrange press interviews;  assemble and maintain an EDA press directory.

Research grants, assist in preparation of project grant proposals; set up and maintain
a donor management system; communicate with donors; run year-round public fundraising campaigns.

(For a more extensive listing showing suggestions for all the groups, see:  http://electiondefensealliance.org/work-to-do  )

"What should I personally be doing in my Working Group?"

Let me answer that with a question for you:  "What  would you like to be doing in the Working Groups?"

You could start by reviewing the answers you provided when you originally applied for a Working Group:

"Tell us which one or two Working Group(s) you are interested in joining, and something about your previous experience working on election integrity, or on any other social/political issues, and other organizations you are active in.

Indicate three job skills, study subjects, or other activities you are most interested in pursuing as a Working Group participant.

For example:

Skills: (database design, audio/visual production, desktop publishing, etc.)

Study areas: (Election law, data forensics, software programming, etc.)

Other: (Event planning, fundraising, public education, etc.) "

Skills and study areas don't have to be high-tech.

Writing letters to the editor, social networking, researching grants, contacting other organizations, phoning volunteers--
-- these are all important jobs that EDA needs your help doing.


Updating Your Working Group Profile

Have your interests changed since you first signed on?

If so, and you now think a different  Group would be a better fit for you, go ahead and find out.

Think of this as elective week in the first semester of a new school year.
Shop around. Talk to people in other groups.

You can communicate by e-mail to everyone in any of the Working Groups.

Here's the list of Working Group mail addresses:  http://mail.electiondefensealliance.org/mailman/listinfo  
(Bookmark for convenient reference, or copy now).

Until you join a particular Group and add your name as a list subscriber, the mail system will queue your posts for moderation.  The list administrator can pass your message along to the group.

You can update your own Working Group information at any time.

1. Log in to the EDA site

2. The User Account access link will appear.

3. Click it.  You will then see and can edit the Working Group section of your account.


New Improved Working Group Forums

The original EDA Working Group forums were very limited in functionality, and frankly, not too conducive to online collaboration.

About a month ago we announced that  improved second-generation Forums have been built for the Working Groups.

We think they are a significant improvement that will enable a higher-quality, online collaborative experience.

The New Forums are on an "EDA2" website still under development, but the Forums there are open and functional.

If you haven't already checked out the new improved Working Group Forums, please do.

Your EDA web account Username and password will gain you access.

(The same Username and password works on both the old and new EDA websites.  Your Username is your First and Last Names with a space between, like this: Tom Courbat).

We've published a detailed guide explaining how to use the new forums, and the transition process from old to new.

Click here for that  How-to information.

The original Working Group Forums remain open and that's where most of the content still is filed.

We could use your help transferring original content to the new Forum site. (See How-to guide for more information).

To share your ideas for EDA Working Groups in 2010, please log in to the New Forums and post there.

How to Make the Working Groups Work

1.  Get to know your Working Group colleagues via your Group e-mail list, and  in the new forum space.

(The New Forums support Chat and a direct e-mail feature called Broadcast, in addition to a Forum, a Wiki, and a Blog).

2.  Discuss how you will work together to provide valuable research and services not only in support of EDA projects, but for the benefit of the whole election integrity movement.

3.   Nominate and elect / select / appoint a group coordinator or co-coordinators
as your representative(s) to the EDA Council.

If I can be of any help, please call or write me any time.

Best regards,
Dan Ashby
Co-Founder, Director

EDA mail:      Dan[at]electiondefensealliance[dot]org
Phone:           877.375.3930
The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected.
To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery. . .
Thomas Paine