DemLabs blog

Native American voters are the margin of victory in many key races. Vast distances, scarce funds and a legacy of voter suppression makes it hard to get out the vote. 

Donna Semans, the Director of Grassroots Organizing at Four Directions is innovating with free software and a small team of canvassers to get out the vote in North Carolina's upcoming special election.

Donna, like most organizers, needed an affordable solution that was easy to train new canvassers to use and to implement. It had to:
- Work on any phone, tablet or laptop.
- Work with any list of addresses or even without a list to add new potential voters.
- Allow easy address list upload and canvasser assignment.
- Make it easy for canvassers to plan their routes with digital maps on their phones.
- Be flexible and let her customize the information that was to be collected.
- Allow canvassers to update records and also add details on new potential voters.
- Immediately update the information collected to a central database.

Donna designed this mobile canvassing app to get out the vote with a little help from DemLabs. It took her less than a day to design the solution using two free software platforms: Google Sheets and GlideApps.

This is how it works:

How the app was designed

A Google Sheet is created with the information to be collected. Each person to be visited is assigned to a canvasser. A list of community residents to contact is uploaded into the Google Sheet. This immediately appears in the canvassers' mobile app.

Glide, a free app creation platform was used to design this solution. The app is shared in the form of a link. It works on any smartphone with a browser, and does not require an actual app to be installed on the phone. Canvassers use the SEARCH bar to find their personal list of people to contact.

The app can be toggled from a LIST view to a MAP view with the icon in the bottom right. The map view enables canvassers to plan their routes.

Canvassers can edit information and can also add new records straight from their phone. All entries are immediately updated to a central Google Sheet database.

Democrats are stepping up their courtship of Native American voters
"Democrats seeking the White House are starting to focus on issues facing Native Americans: Native American voter turnout has ticked upward in the last several elections, and while Native Americans make up a small slice of the electorate, they overwhelmingly support Democrats.

An increase in Native American voters in key battleground states could overcome the margins of victory President Donald Trump earned in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and North Carolina, native activists said."

“You might think, well, 2% of the population, that’s not going to make a whole big difference for the president,” said U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress. “The Indian vote is going to make a difference for various congresspeople across the country, for House and Senate seats across the states, for county commissions." - Des Moines Register

“Four Directions is honored to work DemLabs and have field tested this application while conducting the Get Out the Vote operation in North Carolina’s District 9 Special Election going on now and have found that it works.” -O.J. Semans Sr. Co-Executive Director-Four Directions.

O.J.'s daughter, Donna Semans, said her parents roped her into the task of knocking on doors when she was a teenager in their effort to increase local turnout, starting in 2000!

Take away
The best antidote to voter suppression is to make sure every qualified citizen is registered and gets to vote. Free, easy-to-use software like Google Sheets and GlideApps let even small grassroots groups make a bigger impact. Work smarter, not harder. Learn more here.

Co-Founder, DemLabs

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DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.