DemLabs blog

Voting by mail has worked well for years, but will be especially important in this pandemic. But how do voters without a computer or internet access request a Vote By Mail (VBM) ballot?

Vote at home empowers voters, letting them decide when, how and where they vote.
- Disenfranchised voters experiencing barriers at the polls
- Seniors and disabled voters who might have trouble getting to the polls
- Rural voters and those on tribal lands a long way from a polling location
- Urban voters without internet access who also suffer as schools move to online education
- Single parents working multiple jobs, juggling family and kids.
- Workers who can't take time off work or might be on a business trip

A landline phone is the only form of communication in many poor, rural communities. No cell phone. No computer. No internet access. Voters without internet access access struggle to learn about Vote-By-Mail options and request their VBM ballot. They are effectively disenfranchised.

The Center for Common Ground is a non-profit that empowers the disadvantaged through voting. They designed a Chatbot with DemLabs to help more people to vote by mail.

Voters call 202-318-7538 and provide their contact details. A voicebot transcribes what they say (or text) and saves the details in a database. Volunteers follow up with the voter to confirm the details and help them request a Vote-By-Mail ballot in states where VBM is allowed.

System design
Andrea Miller, founding board member of the Center For Common Ground is a veteran community organizer. She believes that such disadvantaged voters without internet access can be empowered to vote if they can just make a call to get the help they need. But staffing a phone hotline to field such incoming calls is both expensive and not a good use of resources.

Chatbots work around the clock, handle incoming calls, transcribe the request and save the details in a database. Volunteers then follow up individually with the requests for help. They can handle requests made by voice, text and Facebook Messenger.

This example shows a text request from Clark Kent being immediately saved in a database.

 

Call or text   202-318-7538

Provide an imaginary name and address.
Check the database to see the transcribed details you provided.

 

Vote At Home
"The VBM system builds on the long-trusted and well-ingrained absentee voting process. When implemented fully, ballots are securely mailed to voters who have a variety of options to return them to be counted. Layers of checks and balances ensure the administration and integrity of elections.

Jurisdictions that use vote-at-home systems experience significant cost savings in a variety of ways including being able to focus people power on necessary tasks rather than repetitive admin. Vote at home has wide acceptance in red, blue and purple states, with strong advocates on both sides of the aisle."

Take Away
Leave no voter behind. New low-cost technology makes it easier for people to get the help they need to vote by mail - during a pandemic and afterwards. Learn more here.

Deepak
Co-Founder, DemLabs

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