22 January, 2022

Canvassers help Americans without cell phone service or internet access register to vote

icon canvass,cell phone service,internet connectivity
Help Americans living in areas without cellular phone service or internet connectivity register to vote.

Canvassers take digital voter registration lists with them to areas without cell phone service to help unregistered voters.

Lack of cell phone service denies many Americans their right to vote and makes it harder for voting rights advocates to help them. It's hard to register online, learn about upcoming elections, dates and polling locations without connectivity. Canvassers cannot check to see if someone has been purged from the voter rolls.

It's a vicious cycle. Not having cell service or internet access holds back many communities. Resident cannot vote and lose their political power. They are denied the political representation by which to demand resources for their communities. Rural communities, tribal lands and low income housing in urban areas suffer the most from a lack of connectivity.

"States have requirements on who is eligible to request a voter registration lists, what information the list contains, and how the information may be used" - NCSL. These lists (also called Voter Files) change as voters added and removed. How can canvassers take the latest version of the voter file with them so they can check to see if the person they are meeting with is registered to vote or not?

Voting rights advocates now have an affordable solution. Canvassers take a digital copy of the latest voter file with them with the Voter File To Go app.

Take the voter file with you when canvassing in areas without cellular coverage.

Areas without cell phone service is a "Consumer Generated Coverage Map™" of outdoor coverage issues and indoor vs outdoor cell reception problems locations The map shows buildings, homes, parks, resorts, stadiums, hospitals and public places where cell phone calls are frequently dropped, network congestion is experienced or where a cell phone cell signal strength is not available. Its map database of over 100,000+ cell phone complaints, dropped calls and data congestion areas contributed by actual customers. 

Canvassing for unregistered voters is hard in areas without cell phone service

Canvassers do better with voter registration lists

Center For Common Ground volunteers working in low income urban communities in Virginia and OPAL volunteers canvassing in rural Ohio inspired DemLabs to design this solution. Their volunteers were unable to check the voting status of the person they were meeting. They couldn't see if the person was registered to vote or had been purged while canvassing in areas without cell service. This is how the new solution works:

  • Organizers put the latest version of the voter file that is publicly available in their online account
  • Canvassers install the VOTER FILE TO GO app on their phone or tablet computer
  • Such tablet computers cost less than $50 and can work offline without WiFi or cell service
  • Organizers provide their canvassers with tablet computers pre-loaded with the Voter File To Go app
  • Canvasser check the voting status of a person through a simple interface on the app - just like they would do if they had internet connectivity
  • The VOTER FILE TO GO app automatically is refreshed with the latest version of the Voter File when it is in an area with WiFi or cell phone service

Rules for using the Voter Registration Lists

"States have varied requirements on who is eligible to request a list of voters, what information the list contains, what information is kept confidential and how the information contained in voter lists may be used. The availability of voter lists for campaign purposes is longstanding; candidates benefit from knowing who their party’s voters are. However, not every record is publicly available." - National Conference on State Legislators (NCSL)

The United States Elections Project provides timely and accurate election statistics, electoral laws, research reports, and other useful information regarding the United States electoral system. The project explains how the U.S. electoral system works, how it may be improved, and how citizens can participate in it.

This wonderful resource is produced by Dr. Michael P. McDonald is Professor of Political Science at University of Florida. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from U.C. San Diego and has taught at Vanderbilt University; University of Illinois, Springfield; and George Mason University. His voter turnout research shows that turnout is not declining, the ineligible population is rising. He is a co-principle investigator on the Public Mapping Project, a project to encourage public participation in redistricting.  He is co-author with Micah Altman of The Public Mapping Project: How Public Participation Can Revolutionize Redistricting

U.S. Election information resources

TakeAway: Help all eligible Americans, even without cell phone service register to vote with the Voter File To Go app.


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