10.10.2016 | Jennifer Gehrt
If, like me, you have lived your entire adult life in the state of Washington, you may not realize that most states do not mail out voter information guides. In fact only seven states mail out these guides, leading to a dearth of information across the electorate. This was something I learned while meeting with Bryan Finney, the founder and president of Democracy Live, the nation’s leading cloud-balloting technology firm in the United States.
Providing Americans with better access to ballots and information was the impetus for Bryan and his team to create LiveBallot, an app and website for voters who want to see and interact with their ballots before Election Day. After witnessing the historic Bush v. Gore election and the infamous “hanging chads,” Bryan was inspired to found Democracy Live with the hopes of modernizing our democracy.
Now, for the first time in American history, people with the LiveBallot app can access a replica of their ballot from their smartphones and tablets. The replica ballot allows voters to see who and what is on their ballot, including down-ballot candidates and initiatives. They can research and select the candidates and initiatives for whom they intend to vote, and can share their replica ballots on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“Access to ballot information is important because the more informed the electorate, the higher the likelihood is that they will vote,” explains Margaret Groarke, associate professor of government with Manhattan College. “Numerous studies have found that information has a significant impact on voter turnout.”
Furthermore, Groarke finds that when her millennial-generation students have questions, the first place they turn to for answers is their mobile phone.
“It is important that younger people get out and vote, but they should not do so blindly,” adds political strategist Mary Anna Mancuso. “Apps like LiveBallot will make it easier for millennials to learn about candidates and key issues, which is important because millennials make up such a significant portion of the electorate.”
Historically, younger people vote less often than older generations, but Mancuso would like to see more millennials turnout to vote as the results of this election could affect them for the next 20-30 years.
The other nifty feature of the LiveBallot app is the ability to access and learn about special interest groups’ endorsements. For instance, LiveBallot shows me that for Seattle, Wash., the Sierra Club is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president of the United States, and Patty Murray for U.S. senator. Whereas, the NRA is endorsing Donald Trump for President and has not provided endorsements for Washington candidates running for the U.S. senate. With one click, voters can mark their ballots to align with organizations they support.
In discussing this app with many Democrats and Republicans, most seem to agree that better-informed voters lead to a healthier democracy. I hope that you will download and try LiveBallot. It is free, helpful and we would love your feedback on it.
For more information on LiveBallot, please check out these news articles:
Tags: Democracy Live