Election Protection Runs on RT

Request Tracker is a familiar application for business-critical systems like customer support, security incident handling, and even ensuring the integrity of manufacturing supply lines or monitoring the statuses of work orders. But the capabilities that suit RT to these work loads also make it ideal for some unexpected applications.

On election day in November 2016, the largest election monitoring and voter support program in the United States, Election Protection, helped over 50,000 voters navigate their local voting systems to cast ballots. Before 2014, the EP program had relied on custom-built solutions to handle thousands of voter intakes and nearly 1,000 volunteers over a 48-hour period. Costly, inflexible, and crash-prone, none of the custom-built tools could meet EP's unique and extreme use case. Election Protection decided it needed something better.

In 2014, Election Protection discovered RT. RT's code base was open, so their in-house staff could customize and extend it. They could host RT themselves, or choose a trusted hosting provider - critical since they collected and selectively shared sensitive voter data. They appreciated Best Practical's transparent security practices: registering CVE's and maintaining contact points for responsible disclosure of vulnerabilities. Most of all, Election Protection could be sure that RT could handle their work load. They learned from Best Practical that RT's time-tested and robust code base was already deployed in scenarios that generated 20 times their highest expected ticket creation rates.

So, Election Protection invested in RT. Their lone in-house technologist attended one of Best Practical's public RT training courses, where he learned how to customize and extend RT. EP purchased performance hosting from Gossamer Threads, who rely on expert support from Best Practical to tune RT for custom work loads. Within days after training, their technologist produced the first customized RT prototype for election monitoring.

Suddenly, Election Protection had a system that conformed to its existing workflow and adapted as it evolved. Users had individualized dashboards - important when users need data scoped geographically somewhere between municipalities and the entire nation. And EP's technologist was able to build custom interfaces, nearly on the fly.

Over the next two US general elections in November 2014 and 2016, Election Protection helped more voters, coordinated more volunteers, and generated better data to fight voter suppression than it had since its inception in 2004. EP produced data-backed reports in 2014 and 2016 on the state of the US voting landscape, enabled by its RT. Gossamer Threads documented its support of EP's RT in 2014 with a case study and a follow-up in 2016. And during the 2016 program, EP's technologist worked with Pro Publica to integrate RT with their award-winning Electionland reporting project.

Election Protection had to modernize its automation platform, or face a future of incomplete data and broken workflows. With a modest investment in Request Tracker, hosting by GT.net, and support and training from Best Practical, EP's necessary presence in the US election landscape is secure. Their use case might be atypical. But they accomplished their mission using a combination of open source technology and professional support services from Best Practical Solutions. We can help you solve your use case, too.

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