Person

Whitney May

Occupation:

Co-Founder, Center for Tech and Civic Life

Lives:

Chicago, IL

Whitney May is a co-founder and director of government services at the left-of-center Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), a Chicago-based election advocacy organization which pushes for left-of-center voting policies and election administration. [1] Prior to joining CTCL, May was a local government election official who then worked as a government liaison at the New Organizing Institute (NOI). NOI is a now-defunct left-progressive group that trained digital organizers and campaigners for the Democratic Party and left-of-center political causes. [2] [3] [4]

Background

Whitney May attended Belmont University and spent time as a cheesemaker at a goat farm in rural North Carolina before working as an election administration official for the Durham County, North Carolina government from 2007 to 2012. In 2012, May joined the now defunct New Organizing Institute (NOI), a left-leaning training organization for left-leaning and Democratic digital activists. While at NOI, May was a liaison to state election officials for the NOI’s Voting Information Project and later acted as the liaison to election officials for the organization’s election administration department. [5]

In February of 2015, May was part of a walkout involving eight senior staff members and an unknown number of the New Organizing Institute’s lower-level employees that led to the eventual dissolution of the organization. [6] The staff walkout was in response to a memo sent the day prior to the board of directors which accused executive director Ethan Roeder of financial mismanagement and demanded his firing. Board chair Judith Freeman refused to fire Roeder, leading to the walkout. [7]

Center for Tech and Civic Life

Upon quitting New Organizing Institute, May focused her attention on the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) which she had founded in 2012 with fellow former Institute staff members Donny Bridges [8] and Tiana Epps-Johnson. [9]

At CTCL, May leads the government services department, which focuses on outreach to election officials and provides professional development resources. The program also pushes for certain policies and voting technologies to be implemented by election officials. [10]  CTCL’s election official outreach division is one of two major programs that the group operates, with the other being providing election data to companies including Google and Facebook. [11] The division operates ElectionTools.org, which provides election officials with free administration tools and software to analyze ballots and voting wait times. [12]

In 2020, the CTCL government services division under May administered election grants to local jurisdictions in response to COVID-19. The grant program was funded with a total of $350 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. CTCL sent funds directly to local election departments to hire more staff and handle the increase in mail-in ballots and early voting that occurred due to COVID-19. [13] [14]

The CTCL’s 2020 grant program faced criticism for targeting swing states and specific Democratic localities that were essential to President Joe Biden’s victory. [15] The grants also led to CTCL being named in an unsuccessful lawsuit from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R), which alleged that the grants consisted of “unregulated private money.” [16]

References

  1. “The Center for Technology and Civic Life”. Democracy Fund. Accessed June 9, 2020.  https://www.democracyfund.org/portfolio/entry/the-center-for-technology-and-civic-life ^
  2. “Our Team.” The Center for Tech and Civil Life. Accessed June 9, 2021. https://www.techandciviclife.org/team/ ^
  3. Fung, Brian. “Inside the Democratic Party’s Hogwarts for Digital Wizardry,” April 24, 2019. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/07/08/inside-the-democratic-partys-hogwarts-for-digital-wizardry/ ^
  4. “Whitney May.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/whitney-maybe/ ^
  5. “Whitney May.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/whitney-maybe/ ^
  6. “Whitney May.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/whitney-maybe/ ^
  7. McMorris-Santoro, Evan. “Liberal Organizing Group Implodes In One Tumultuous Afternoon.” Buzzfeed News. February 10, 2015. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/evanmcsan/new-organizing-institute-implodes ^
  8. “Donny Bridges.” LinkedIn Profile. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/donny-bridges-4880bb7/ ^
  9. “Tiana Epps-Johnson.” LinkedIn Profile. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tianaej/ ^
  10. “Whitney May.” The Center for Tech and Civil Life. Accessed June 9, 2021. https://www.techandciviclife.org/team/whitney-may/ ^
  11. “Civic Data.” Center for Tech and Civic Life. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.techandciviclife.org/our-work/civic-data/ ^
  12. “ElectionTools.org.” Center for Tech and Civic Life. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.techandciviclife.org/our-work/election-officials/electiontools/ ^
  13. Allen, Mike. “Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Invest $300 Million in Election Infrastructure,” September 1, 2020. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.axios.com/mark-zuckerberg-priscilla-chan-election-security-a4950a93-2efd-42a6-9d7a-5fcc763f9214.html ^
  14. Culliford, Elizabeth. “Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan Donate $100 Million More to U.S. Election Infrastructure,” October 13, 2020. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-zuckerberg-chan/mark-zuckerberg-priscilla-chan-donate-100-million-more-to-u-s-election-infrastructure-idUSKBN26Y22Z ^
  15. Hayden Ludwig. “Mark Zuckerberg Meddled in Battleground State Elections: Here’s How.” Capital Research Center. March 3, 2021. Accessed June 9, 2021. https://capitalresearch.org/article/mark-zuckerberg-meddled-in-battleground-state-elections-heres-how/ ^
  16. State of Louisiana v. Center for Technology and Civic Life, New Venture Fund, et al. Filed October 2, 2020. Accessed June 10, 2021. Original URL: https://lailluminator.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2020.10.02-AG-Petition.pdf  Archived URL: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2021/05/Louisiana-v-CTCL-New-Venture-Fund.-10.02.2020.pdf ^
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