For decades, election authorities in the U.S. have been puzzled over the dwindling number of people turning out for elections. Whether the reason is lack of interest, or lack of access to polling centers, or some other impediment, low voter turnout is proving to be such a pain point that it has received the attention of various sectors, even the developer community.
Recently, several innovative mobile applications have been released that aim to smooth the voter registration process. One such notable app is the appropriately-named Register to Vote which allows citizens in California, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, and Massachusetts to register simply by scanning their state IDs. It promises to complete the whole process in thirty seconds. The app’s most obvious benefit is the elimination of the cumbersome step of having to physically go to a registration to sign up.
Another app takes the chatbot approach in helping voters register. HelloVote allows voters simply enter their mobile phone number on this site, or text HELLO to 384–387, and the app takes them through the filling out the voter registration form for their state. Some states allow direct electronic submissions while some states require voters to fill out a form that HelloVote will send back via via email or snail mail for later submission to the local electoral body.
It’s not as if anyone is likely to forget when Election Day is. But sometimes little nudge helps in to actually go out and cast that vote. TurboVote provides that impetus by sending text and email reminders. Voters get a notification the day before election day complete with ballot information and information on the nearest polling center. What’s even more interesting is the TurboVote Challenge, which get top companies and leading organizations into a a nonpartisan advocacy to increase voter participation.
Reversing the voter turnout downtrend is a tall order yet innovation could provide just the needed spark to get voters trooping back to the polling centers.