Ben Mindes, a 2018 Baker Innovation Grant recipient and Master of Public Policy candidate at the McCourt School of Public Policy, founded Observe D.C., an organization that will pilot the first nonpartisan, sample-based election observation effort in the U.S. Observe D.C. aims to provide the first representative data about the quality of election administration in D.C. by piloting a sample-based election observation of the mayoral general elections on November 6, 2018.

Observe D.C. will send volunteer observers to 83 the 143 polling places in D.C., a representative sample of all polling places in the district. Observers will provide regular reports of any irregularities at their polling sites throughout the day to a call center based on campus. The findings from the sample will allow Observe D.C. to compare voting across the city and put forward recommendations for electoral reform that can be submitted to the D.C. Board of Elections.

Through Observe D.C., Ben hopes to introduce sample-based election observation as a credible mechanism for non-partisan oversight of elections in the United States. Prior to enrolling at Georgetown, Ben worked at the National Democratic Institute, as part of their Elections team, researching international affairs and elections.

Observe D.C. has received press coverage, including at the ElectionLine blog and the Hoya. Interested students and other community members can volunteer by signing up at Observe D.C.’s Facebook page.