I. In Focus This Week
States, counties, NGOs roll out more technology to help voters
With the primary season in full swing, it has been a busy spring for state and local elections offices in their efforts to make voting/registering easier for citizens.
Like the trees and flowers coming into season, new websites and mobile apps have been blooming from coast to coast.
For some a lot of this may be old hat, but it’s important to take notice of these new apps/sites to highlight the progress being made in the elections field; and to encourage others who may late bloomers to get the ball rolling with their own tech improvements.
What follows is a snapshot of what some counties, states and voter advocacy organizations have done lately to make voting and/or registering to vote easier.
In Connecticut, Secretary of State Denise Merrill recently announced that a mobile app for the state’s new online voter registration system is available. The app — for smartphone or tablet — is available through Google Play and Apple. Since OVR launched in February, more than 2,000 Connecticut residents have registered to vote or updated their registration. Merrill hopes the new app will increase those numbers.
“I am very excited to offer these mobile apps for voter registration so any eligible Connecticut voter with a driver’s license can register for this year’s elections from the convenience of their Smartphone or tablet,” Merrill, said in a statement. “Modern features like this help to reach new eligible voters, and the more people who participate the better.”
Georgia also took advantage of the introduction of OVR to launch mobile apps to help voters register as well as provide the voters with all the same information available on the state’s My Voter Page website.
Social media behemoth Facebook recently launched a global version of its “I’m a Voter” button. The button, originally launched in 2012, is designed to let your friends on Facebook know that you’ve cast a ballot.
According to a study in the journal Nature, in 2010, more than 300,000 people cast ballots in the mid-term elections after seeing a friend share the button on Facebook and in 2012 approximately 9 million people shared the button during the presidential elections.
The U.S. Vote Foundation recently launched a new widget that answers all sorts of absentee voting questions. The Can I Vote Absentee (CIVA) widget let’s voters quickly find what the absentee voting rules and regulations for their state and then allows voters, advocates, whoever to share the widget directly on their websites to help other voters.
Oklahoma has joined a growing list of states using technology to make it easier for military and overseas voters to cast a ballot. The Oklahoma Military and Overseas Ballot Online system allows voters to log into a secure system, fill out their ballot, print it and return it via fax or mail.
The state also launched a new Online Voter Tool that allows Oklahomans to look up the status of their registration, find their polling location, review sample ballots and check the status of their absentee ballots.
The City of Santa Monica, California recently launched a new voter education website. SMVote.org provides voters with all the information they need including updates on candidates, ballot initiatives, links to voter registration and an elections calendar.
Also in California, the Sonoma County elections office introduced an app that provides voters with all the information found on the county’s website.
In addition to providing voters with timely and accurate information, the app is seen as an addition to the office’s “going green” program. Bill Rousseau, county clerk and registrar of voters told a local paper that the app is expected to reduce the amount of information the office prints and mails to voters — saving a tree and money!
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