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2 September, 2020

Don’t know where to vote early? Use these free apps to find out.

icon early voting,vote by mail,voter suppression
Avoid the lines. Vote early. New apps help locate early voting locations.

Voting is being made harder by choking the U.S. Postal Service. New apps help voters find early voting locations.

The U.S. Postal Service is being crippled to prevent people from voting by mail. The next best option to avoid long lines at polling locations is to vote early. Voters face another hurdle.

It's hard to find where and when to vote early. Voting rights groups are tackling this challenge by using volunteers to collect this information (crowdsourcing) and using free software share it with voters in different forms.

Information has been weaponized to suppress the vote. Voting rates drop as voters struggle to find out where, when and how to vote. Here are some common tactics from the digital voter suppression playbook:
- Make it hard for voters, especially the elderly, less educated and those without internet access voters, to find their polling location.
- Change the polling location and not inform the impacted voters who then go to the wrong location.
- Provide the information but in a complicated form so people are deterred from voting.
- Scatter voting related information across multiple websites forcing voters to go on a virtual scavenger hunt in order to vote.

Free app helps voters find early voting locations and more

Technology is a double edged sword. It's being used to suppress voting. But technology can also be used to empower more voters to more easily find the information they need in order to vote. DemLabs teamed with Reclaim Our Vote to create the free "Early Voting Resources" solution which can be used on a phone without having to install any software. The solution uses free software from Glide Apps.

The app provides details on over 200 early voting locations in North Carolina. The information provided by the app can be easily changed in case a polling location is moved or closed. The app will include information on early voting locations in other states as it becomes available. The app includes voting resources from other groups such as:
North Carolina State Board of Elections - state agency charged with overall responsibility for administration of the elections process and campaign finance disclosure in North Carolina. 
U.S. Vote Foundation - a non-partisan, non-profit voter assistance organization that helps American citizens overseas and in the military participate in elections.
VoteRiders - a non-partisan, non-profit 501 organization whose mission is to ensure that all citizens are able to exercise their right to vote. 
Mail-In 2020 - non-profit group that gathers up the steps you need to vote by mail and outline and  puts it into a single web page for your state with buttons for each step.  

Free app show early voting locations in North Carolina along with other helpful  info for voters.

Maps make it easier to find early voting locations

Offer information in the form that's most convenient for your intended audience. Reclaim Our Vote collected details on early voting locations and the hours they are open. DemLabs created an interactive map with this information using ArcGIS Online. It includes county boundaries as well as bookmarks to major cities.

The map can be freely shared with this link. The map can also be freely embedded in other websites with this line of code.
< iframe width="300" height="200" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen src="https://arcg.is/uv5XD">
This enables other organizations serving voters to also disseminate this information.

Early voting locations info provided as an interactive map making it easier for people to search.

Take away: Fight back against digital voter suppression. Use free, innovative technology to quickly and conveniently get voters the information they need.

Deepak
DemLabs

Image credit: Cagle @ Political Cartoons

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