Making access to voting information harder disenfranchises the elderly, disabled, less educated and those with limited internet access.
This Jim Crow-style voter suppression is especially hard for the blind, disabled, seniors, and those without a computer and good internet access. MailBots counter this voter suppression by making voting related information more accessible to more people.
"Initially only white men with property were the only Americans could vote. Later most white men without property could vote, but African Americans, women, Native Americans, non-English speakers, and citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 had to fight for the right to vote." - Library of Congress
Now it seems some states only want to allow wealthy, well educated white people with a computer eligible to vote by make voting regulations confusing and hard to find. They are effectively disenfranchising voters and using non-compliance with rules to purge poor, disabled voters from the voter rolls.
Fight back when access to voting information is weaponized to disenfranchise voters. This blog explains how to use MailBots to make it easier to find voting requirements and other helpful information.
Finding Voter ID requirements
Take look at what a voter deals with when trying to learn what Voter IDs are acceptable in Louisiana - first on the LA Secretary of State website and then by making a similar query on VoteRiders. Unfortunately the Louisiana Secretary of State site had an error today while I was writing this blog ...
Voter disenfranchisement by design
Access to information has been weaponized to hinder some voters from finding the information they need to vote.
- Websites can be confusing and require several clicks to find what you're looking for
- Searching a website by phones if the site hasn't been designed for mobile access
- Searching for answers is harder for those with bad eyesight, arthritis or other disabilities
- Overly complex sites are hard to understand for those with limited education
- Websites are hard to use with a bad internet connection
Email is a good way to answer questions, and it can be automated. Email-bots are programs that understand email inquiries, look up the answer and reply automatically with by email. Those with disabilities can use the accessibility features in their phones and laptops to read the answers, save the answers in their mail inbox for later and forward the answers they got to their friends as well. The Email-bots look up the answers to questions from a database with the answers that experts like VoteRiders have collected.
Email-bots answer voting related questions
It doesn't have to be so hard. VoteRiders and Ballotpedia make it easier for voters to find information such as details on what’s required to vote in person or by mail. People obtain information by voice (Siri / Alexa) or through text messages. A new approach uses smart email responders (Mail-bots) that understand your email inquiries, look up the answer and reply automatically with an email with the answer. These emailed answers can be read out aloud by most phones, saved in your inbox and shared with others.
How MailBots work
This simple prototype shows how an email bot works. Simply enter your email address and the state that you would like to get information on voter ID requirements for. The Email-Bot looks up the answers from a database created with information from VoteRiders and sends you the answer as an email. Mail-bots are easier to set up than voice and text bots and cost less to run as there are no texting or phone call costs involved. Mailbots can respond with text, images, PDFs, forms and links to more information.
This demo shows the workflow. A user enters their email and state of interest into SearchMachine.org
Apple make its devices user-friendly for people with disabilities. New software updates coming later this year will include changes “designed for people with mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive disabilities. These features help users compose and read emails easier on their phones, tablets and laptop computers.
“At Apple, we’ve long felt that the world’s best technology should respond to everyone’s needs, and our teams work relentlessly to build accessibility into everything we make,” said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of global accessibility policy and initiatives. “With these new features, we’re pushing the boundaries of innovation with next-generation technologies that bring the fun and function of Apple technology to even more people — and we can’t wait to share them with our users.” - Disability Scoop
Text and voice chatbots
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