June 28, 2022


IRG will provide sound, common sense policy recommendations on civic engagement and voting rights to legislators, media and public

CONTACT: press@responsivegoverning.org
June 28, 2022

CHICAGO, IL — Tonight, the Center for Secure and Modern Elections and the Center for Tech and Civic Life launched the Institute for Responsive Government (IRG), at their headquarters in Chicago. The two organizations recognized a gap in the voting rights policy space at such a pivotal time in our democracy, and in doing so decided to form IRG by bringing together a team with decades of collective experience running elections and implementing voter policy.

Through its work, IRG will focus on how to drive processes and policies that are more efficient for the government and more beneficial to the people it serves by monitoring systems and offering recommendations to make improvements on voting policy, distribution of government services, and civic engagement initiatives.

“We are in a precarious moment for democracy, and we need to be smarter about how we intend to preserve and strengthen it. Too often, the conversations around voting policy and government services focus on partisan political battles, leaving out careful policy design for people who are most affected by outcomes,” said IRG’s new executive director, Sam Oliker-Friedland. “IRG was created to identify the barriers that currently exist and provide practical solutions that make the government more responsive for its people — and I am thrilled to assist in this critical mission.”

“Policy design too often fails to consider implementation — how policies exist in the world, how policy is deployed by dedicated but often under-resourced administrators, and how policies can reflect careful tailoring to the lives of people who benefit from them. To restore trust in our democracy, government must be responsive to the people it serves. The Center for Tech and Civic Life is proud to stand with IRG in its mission to improve the ways that government delivers for its citizens, especially in a moment when democracy is under threat,” said CTCL’s executive director, Tiana Epps-Johnson.

In addition to tracking and assessing government efforts to involve citizens in the democratic process, IRG will not only rely on its internal staff’s expertise on policy, but it will also rely on an advisory board to offer recommendations on best practices informed by years of experience in the voting space. Advisory board members for the new organization include former Governor of Kansas and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Katheen Sebelius, former Governor of Montana Steve Bullock, former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, and the President and CEO of the Voter Participation Center, Tom Lopach, among others.

“How the government communicates with its citizens is one of the most important functions of a healthy democracy,” said former Governor Kathleen Sebelius. “I’ve seen it first hand as governor of Kansas and as Secretary of Health and Human Services overseeing one of the largest expansions of healthcare in history. The current moment could not be more critical for preserving democracy, engaging the American people, providing services, and increasing access to the ballot — it’s all on the line, and I’m pleased to join the Institute for Responsive Government to ensure that government is efficient and responsive to the people it serves.”

“My fellow board members and I care about making our government work better for voters in red, blue, and purple states alike,” said former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson. “Using data and technology to improve access and security at the same time is absolutely critical to improve our democracy, and IRG has the approach our country needs to explore how to make our government more efficient and design practical policy solutions to make that a reality.”

“Democracy is not an outcome,” said former Montana Governor Steve Bullock. “It is a process. We need to ask more of our policymakers and do a better job taking care of our neighbors by protecting the right to secretly and accurately vote through government efficiency. IRG fully embraces that ideology, and I’m glad to join them in this fight.”

The Institute for Responsive Government is a 501(c)(3) entity working on practical policy solutions that have broad support across the political spectrum.