Imagine you're old, disabled or live in a rural area. You want to vote to protect Medicare. Your state requires two witnesses to vote by absentee ballot...
What do you do? You're effectively disenfranchised if you can't find witnesses. There are volunteers in your neighborhood who also want to protect their healthcare and would gladly witness your ballot. How do you find them?
New Coalition offers NC absentee ballot voters help in finding signature witnesses. Voters text their address to a bot for help in finding a nearby signature witness. Volunteers text their address to the same number to offer to help be a witness. The bot transcribes all the responses into an online database. New Coalition volunteers use that information to match voters with volunteer witnesses near them. The New Coalition service was set up in an hour and costs a few cents per match made.
What is a bot and how do they work? How can grassroots group use bots to fight voter suppression and community organizing? Which states require absentee ballots be witnessed? Which state requires 17 witnesses for an absentee ballot to be accepted? (Answers below).
Technology fights voter disenfranchisement
What are bots? How do bots work?
Uber uses bots to match drivers with passengers. They're fast and easy to use from phones. Similar technology works just as well to match absentee ballot voters with volunteer witnesses.
Bots are affordable and can be set up in an hour with the script you'd like them to ask. You choose the questions for the bot to ask, the information to collect along with the answers or coupons to provide. Bots can handle any number of inquiries and work around the clock collecting information to make organizers more efficient. Ideal for grassroots groups with little money or staff. Learn more about using bots for social justice and voting rights here.
New Coalition spread awareness on the current state of the nation and our rapidly declining democracy. it uses all popular channels of communication to reach younger, irregular voters online and through social media. It tackles the current divide between political institutions and engaging younger generations who have become jaded by the system and/or have never really seen it work for them. Our political system is not a lost cause and we can prove that just by mobilizing millennial and Gen Z cohorts… our numbers dramatically outnumber everyone else’s. This country is ours for the taking, so let’s get it! NOVEMBER 8th – GO VOTE!
Try the New Coalition bot by texting 'witness' to 202-858-0303 or scanning by scanning the QR Code below.
What else can organizers do with bots?
- Answer questions automatically with a Twitter bot
- Active Shooter protection tips from Black Voters Matter chatbot
- Understand how voters feel about issues and find potential supporters with bot surveys
- Automated voice assistants help seniors and the disabled get to vote
- Service helps mothers released from jail using text bots to first survey their needs
- Infobots help the needy find food banks and clinics while building contact lists
Witness signature requirements - NCSL
This is not legal advice. If you are a voter looking for assistance, please contact your local election official. Find contact information by using this database from the US Vote Foundation.
- Nine states require the signature of a witness in addition to the voter’s signature. These states may conduct signature verification as well. Alabama (two witnesses or a notary), Alaska (witness or notary), Louisiana, Minnesota (witness or notary), North Carolina (two witnesses or a notary), Rhode Island (two witnesses or a notary), South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Three states require the absentee/mail ballot envelope to be notarized: Mississippi, Missouri and Oklahoma.
North Carolina: After you submit an absentee ballot request form, an absentee ballot will be mailed to you. Mark your absentee ballot that is mailed to you in the presence of two witnesses (or one notary public). - NC Voter
TakeAway: Community organizers get more done, faster, with less money and staff using smart technology like bots.
DISCLAIMER: ALTHOUGH THE DATA FOUND IN THIS BLOG AND INFOGRAPHIC HAS BEEN PRODUCED AND PROCESSED FROM SOURCES BELIEVED TO BE RELIABLE, NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED CAN BE MADE REGARDING THE ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, LEGALITY OR RELIABILITY OF ANY SUCH INFORMATION. THIS DISCLAIMER APPLIES TO ANY USES OF THE INFORMATION WHETHER ISOLATED OR AGGREGATE USES THEREOF.
Answer: No state current requires 17 witness signatures on an absentee ballot.
Image credit: The Simpsons by Matt Groening