The Cyber Policy Initiative (CPI) at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy has launched the Election Cyber Surge, a new effort to help address the urgent need to connect state and local election offices with volunteer technologists in advance of the November 2020 elections.

Election Cyber Surge will develop a database of technologists willing to volunteer their time to advise state and local election officials and administrators on various cybersecurity issues. The database will allow officials to search for potential volunteers by skillset, subject matter expertise, or cybersecurity experience.

With the global cyber workforce shortage projected to total more than 3.5 million unfilled cyber jobs by 2021, state and local election organizations, like most public sector organizations, are struggling to recruit cybersecurity talent and address the resulting cyber skill gap.  

“Rapidly addressing this situation is especially critical in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in an unprecedented increase in absentee voting and structural vulnerabilities. These developments are causing additional strain for many jurisdictions,” explained CPI leadership in a recent interview.

In the weeks and months leading up the election, under-resourced and under-staffed election operations are expected to see a decline in available personnel as health concerns related to COVID-19 persist. 

Election officials seeking additional information about this initiative can contact (888) 910-1821 or on Twitter @ElectionSurge.

The program is supported in part by Microsoft, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), and the Election Integrity Foundation.