In memoriam: Kenneth Bennett

Twitter Facebook

Kenneth Bennett was a giant in elections—and in real life for those of us of below-average height. People in the elections community may not have known him personally, but they most certainly felt the impact of his work. Some of the largest projects in the elections space owe him a debt of gratitude for the hard work, dedication, leadership, and expertise he gave to support critical initiatives for the benefit of voters, election officials, and the wider elections community.

A close-up photo of Kenneth Bennett presenting
Kenneth Bennett presenting to the 2012 Voting Information Project Summit attendees

When I think of Kenneth, three major projects come to mind.

I first met Kenneth during the early implementation stages of the Voting Information Project, an open-government and open-data project aimed to help voters find official information about their specific elections through the sites they access every day. With his background in elections, technology, and GIS systems, Kenneth was pivotal in this effort, shaping what and how data should be collected. To this day, this data continues to power Google’s election information lookups helping tens of millions of voters.

He also pioneered the use of process models in elections to more accessibly show how elections are conducted—and the true complexity of the process. His original efforts eventually became an active NIST project to determine where voting systems can interoperate. Kenneth is a major reason why process modeling has become a significant aspect of our work here at The Turnout.

Kenneth worked for almost two decades at the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office serving one of the largest—in geography and population—counties in the nation. With Dean Logan’s vision, he helped bring Voting Solutions for All People—Los Angeles County’s publicly-owned-and-developed voting system—into reality with his incredible strength of will. This project was a massive undertaking, turning a county agency into a product development shop, and there is no other system like it.

A headshot of Kenneth Bennett
Kenneth during his time as the product manager for VSAP — Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk

Sadly, he’s no longer with us, but his presence will be felt for generations.

What people in the elections community may not know is Kenneth himself. He was a voracious reader. There didn’t seem to be a topic that didn’t interest him. He always had patience and time for a conversation, whether it was work-related, philosophical, or completely irrelevant. He was kind and always had something insightful to share, whether he was in a roomful of his peers or sitting one-on-one with a friend. He was fiercely devoted to his family. He wanted to make the world a better place. And he did and left his indelible mark on it.

I want to share this post…and I don’t. I want to honor my friend and let people know who he was and all that he’s done, but all the words feel trite, self-serving, and reinforce the reality that Kenneth’s gone. I remember him for everything he did and everything he was.

Selfishly, I just miss my friend.

Current page