Campaigns' Thoughts on Civic Technology
According to the articles that are available in the public domain, election campaigns and civic volunteer organizations are talking about the use of various types of technological processes to improve voter turnout in the United States during election periods. For instance, American Progress talks about the implementation of technological processes and systems like the Electronic Registration Information Center, Automatic Voter Registration, Same-Day Voter Registration, and online registration in the improvement of voter participation and streamlining of voter registration. Further details on our findings follows below.
NEED FOR TECHNOLOGY IN IMPROVING VOTER TURNOUT AND VOLUNTEER RECRUITING
- During the 2016 presidential elections, around 92 million eligible Americans did not vote. However, to ensure the democracy of the United States functions properly and to ensure there is fair representation in the government, all "eligible Americans must have the opportunity to vote—and be encouraged to do so."
- Reasons for low voter turnout in America include the presence of barrier in both the voter registration and voting processes and potential voters feeling alienated from government.
- By implementing Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) in all 50 states of the U.S. and the District of Columbia, the country could see more than 22 million newly registered voters within the first year of implementation.
- To improve voter participation and make the voting process more convenient technology can be used to streamline voter registration through "Automatic Voter Registration (AVR), Same-Day Voter Registration (SDR), and online voter registration."
- State's should also enlist the use of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) in ensuring voter registration rolls are accurate and regularly updated. ERIC uses advanced technology and information to identify voter registrations that are outdated or invalid.
2. TO INCREASE VOTER TURNOUT, BRING ELECTIONS ONLINE
- New York City and the state of New York both suffer from very low voter turnout rates. This is evident from the 11% turnout of eligible voters in New York's 2018 congressional primaries.
- The lack of civic education, the presence of antiquated election laws that purposefully result in voter suppression have all promoted to the low voter turnout witnessed in New York.
- Recently, New York City's mayor Bill de Blasio filled the role of the city's Chief Democracy Officer demonstrating "both the need for innovation in solving New York’s crisis of democracy – and the lack thereof in the solutions currently being pursued, or even discussed."
- The problem in New York is inaccessible ballots and good government reforms like early voting and automatic registration recognize this problem and try to fix it in the right way.
- Many New Yorkers are too busy with their personal and work lives to find time to vote in person. Consequently, "a simpler and more forward-thinking solution to voter engagement is to invest in election technology and allow for mobile voting." Electronic voting would provide a way for busy New Yorkers who do not have time to visit polling stations to cast a ballot online.
3. USING TECH DATA TO INCREASE VOTER TURNOUT
- The U.S. Vote Foundation is combating low voter turnout in local elections by using data to improve voter numbers. The foundation does this by making polling information more easily available to voters.
- The U.S. Voter Foundation turned to technology to improve the low voter turnout situation by making a range of "polling information available to broad audiences of voters and groups that work to enable voting."
- The organization made this possible by establishing an online wizard that made available state-specific voter registration and absentee ballot request forms. The foundation has also pursued other avenues in its goal to unlock voting data starting with building a massive database that compiled information that was previously unavailable into a single source.
- West Virginia became the first U.S. state to allow internet voting by blockchain in primary elections. This marked the reaching of a new milestone in the use of blockchain within the public sector. The idea of implementing the use of blockchain in elections is worth more than an experiment because of its promising benefits.
- Mobile voting through the use of a safe and tested interface such as blockchain could eliminate voter fraud and boost voter turnout. This is because mobile voting makes it more convenient for citizens to vote while overseas irrespective of distance and time.
- Blockchain is also "a beneficial tool for the election commission to maintain transparency in the electoral process, minimize the cost of conducting elections, streamline the process of counting votes and ensure that all votes are counted."
- Using blockchain technology, all the data of an electoral process can be recorded on a publicly verifiable ledger without sacrificing the privacy of voters as the technology allows for the anonymity of voters, with results available instantly.
- If applied correctly, technology can assist in boosting election participation by increasing integrity, improving the voting experience, and even keeping in check the influence of big money in politics.
- In recent years, voter turnout has hit record lows in the United States and hour-long lines have become very common during elections. The use of technology should be central to the blueprint that will be used to improve the electoral process in the United States i.e. the "same technologies that have transformed American life — from the internet to computer tablets to mobile apps — can help transform elections."
- The use of technology in elections would also make the American election system cheaper to run and more secure and this can be achieved through the use of proven applications from both the public and private sectors.
- Examples of technological steps that can be used to improve the American election system include modernizing voter registration and making government an active participant in registration, replacing old voting machines, using the internet to boost transparency, and leveraging technology to make big money matter less.
COMMON THEMES IN ARTICLES
- A common theme witnessed in the first two articles was low voter turnout being the result of barriers that are present in the voter registration and voting processes. These barriers can be in the form of election laws that result in the suppression of voters and eligible voters that feel alienated by the government.
- All articles that are featured above also talk about various technological innovations and processes that can be used to improve voter turnout by improving access to information by voters, improving voter registration through Automatic Voter Registration, Same-Day Voter Registration, and online registration and making the voting process easier, convenient, and transparent through technologies like online voting, and the use of blockchain in elections.
To identify articles, surveys, and studies that discuss what election campaigns and civic volunteer organizations are saying about the need for technology in the improvement of voter turnout and volunteer recruiting in the United States, we started by searching through research, government, election campaign, and civic volunteer resources. By targeting resources of this nature, we were able to find insightful information on the research question at hand. However, some of the available articles and studies were outdated leading us to dig deeper for relevant ones that answered the research question fully. Consequently, we supplemented our first research strategy with a search for relevant resources on media, scholarly, and news resources that included Forbes, Medium, Google Scholar, and CNN. Through our two combined strategies, we were able to identify five articles on how technology and technological processes can be used to improve voter turnout and volunteer recruiting in the United States. However, some of the information found in the articles was specific to individual states, but because the information was relevant and within the scope of the research criteria, we choose to include it.