Tag - Election Day

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Twitter Vote Report Wrap-Up
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Twitter Vote Report in the News
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Twitter Vote Report in Action
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Twitter Vote Report is Live!
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Update on Twitter Campaign: In A Word, Viral!
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Top 5 Reasons You Won't Be Able to Vote

Twitter Vote Report Wrap-Up

Wow, what a ride!  Dozens of volunteers contributing untold hours of their expertise and passion to bring an idea to life in less than a month.  We had nearly 300 news stories filed about the project the past week alone, many, many blog posts about it and thousands of tweeters using the system on Election Day.

The day wasn’t without its problems as the system went down for about a half an hour in the morning and the afternoon.  That was to be expected as we were building it at the same time we were rolling it out! The tech folks, particularly Deanna Zandt, Dave Troy and Andrew Turner were magnificent, calmer than I would have been and resilient throughout the day.

We’re still compiling the final statistics, so here are my impressions of the highlights of the day.

Just as importantly as serving as a vehicle for reporting problems, Twitter Vote Report was a wonderful way for citzens to celebrate voting.  There was a steady stream of tweets throughout the day of people celebrating their votes, like this one: “MeanRachel: #votereport #6th and Lamar – people laughing waiting for cross walk eating free ben and jerrys. Is this what hope looks like? Yes.”

Twitters informed one another:  “LisaS: line shorter now-stl 17th ward pct 5 voters, come on down! #votereport  less than a minute ago in Saint Louis, MO, USA  via Twitter 8:15 am”

And, of course, they reported problems, mainly long waits:  “geosteph: retweet neighbors who voted this morning said there was a long line at 6:10 AM …50 minutes before polls opened in MD #votereport”

Several messages were quite memorable both for the shocking disregard of voting rules, even common sense, by election officials, and the sincere desire of individual voters to try to make a difference by sending a message about it.

A St. Louis voter tweeted in the morning, during the course of what were five hour waits in some parts of St. Louis, this message, “In STL, poll workers shortstaffed, coming outside and asking random
people if anyone can help!  Poll workers require training. #votereport”  This bizarre request for untrained poll workers was included in an NPR roundup of Election Day troubles.

A woman sent in this audio file from her iphone (very cool!) reporting that she had been charged $20 to vote in Indiana.  I thought the poll tax was long gone, but apparently not.

It’s hard to express how appreciative I am of all of the people who invested themselves in this project; the tech folks, in particular, immersed themselves in building an extraordinary suite of tools that can be used for future campaigns and events, like natural disasters, when communications infrastructure between citizens becomes critically important.  We’re just at the beginning of what will be an ongoing, interesting evolution in the ways that mobile technology can be used to engage and connect citizens and I am very thankful that the Twitter Vote Report project could make an important contribution in that journey.

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Twitter Vote Report in the News

Twitter Vote Report has caught fire with the mainstream media and the blogosphere.  Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • An awesome video on Current TV:  http://current.com/contentItem.htm?masterId=85333400
  • Andy Carvin, one of our gang who has helped to design and implement this effort, was interviewed on Weekend Edition on NPR.
  • Noel Hidalgo created a terrific video that’s up on YouTube now:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUMXuTM_KLs
  • Watching Democracy at Work, One Vote at a Time, Richard Waters, Financial Times’ FT Tech Blog, November 1, 2008
  • Protecting Your Vote Using Net Technolgies, Craig Newmark, October 31, 2008

Nancy Scola is doing an amazing job of capturing all of this on the press page at www.twittervotereport.com.

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Twitter Vote Report in Action

“So, what’s all this about?”  Some folks have been asking me that question in the past few weeks when I’ve told them about Twitter Vote Report. As of yesterday when the site went up, I can point to it and see, this is what it’s all about:

  • “#votereport yesterday in #NC #28269 2.5 hr wait at library #early”
  • “#votereport #early #89501 Downtown Reno Libarary 1 minute wait time”
  • “#votereport #02128 #bad #reg I have not received my mail-in registration confirmation, and the MA phone number has been busy for a week!”
  • “#votereport #60657 the electronic voting machines were awesome. showed you a paper receipt before finally casting your ballot.”
  • “#votereport! I voted #early today in Arlington VA (#22201). Exp. was #good; #wait:30 min. I arrived at 8AM.”
  • “My #early #votereport – absentee ballots in #48823 require extra postage. Don’t let a $0.15 slipup keep your voice from being heard!”

My favorite is the postage situation in North Carolina. I’ve asked my friend Cheryl Graeve, head of field operations at the National League of Women Voters to check that one out!

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Twitter Vote Report is Live!

Three weeks to the day ago Nancy Scola and I hatched the idea of using Twitter to report on election day experiences.  This morning Twitter Vote Report went live!

A volunteer network of software developers, designers, and other collaborators teamed up and spent hundreds of volunteer hours, no money was spent on this effort at all, to create the non-partisan Twitter Vote Report.  Individual voters will use their cell phones to report on their individual experiences – the good, bad and ugly. How long is the wait in Cleveland, Ohio? Are the new optical scan machines staying up and running in Palm Beach County, Florida? Is failure to bring ID to the polls thwarting first-time voters in Indianapolis? With Twitter Vote Report, we’ll know the answers to those questions straight from voters from all over the country.

A large number of groups working on voter outreach and protection efforts have joined this effort.  They include: the 866-OUR-VOTE (The Election Protection Coalition), Rock the Vote, Credo Mobile, Common Cause, Plodt.com, YouTube, twittervision.com, NPR’s Social Media Desk, Independence Year Foundation, Center for Community Change, Student PIRGs, PBS, Women Donors Network, and Demos.

And now we need everyone’s help to get the word out — this effort will only work if lots of people are using the system.  So, here’s how it works:

If you currently use Twitter, send a message after you vote that begins with #votereport (this is critically important for ensuring that your message gets to the right place.)  Then write some or all of the following:

#[zip code] to indicate where you’re voting; ex., “#12345”
#machine for machine problems; ex., “#machine broken, using prov. ballot”
#reg for registration troubles; ex., “#reg I wasn’t on the rolls”
#wait:minutes for long lines; ex., “#wait:120 and I’m coming back later”
#good or #bad to give a quick sense of your overall experience
#EP+your state if you have a serious problem and need help from the Election Protection coalition; ex., #EPOH
If you don’t use Twitter and want to go to www.twitter.com, sign up then follow the directions above.

If you want to participate by cellphone but don’t want to use Twitter, you can:

Send a text message to 66937 that begins with “#votereport”
Key in a report by calling (567) 258-VOTE/8683
Download and use the iPhone app (coming soon)
Please participate — we need lots and lots of voices heard on Election Day!

That’s it — let’s go and “tweet” this election!

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Update on Twitter Campaign: In A Word, Viral!

Nancy Scola and I posted an update on TechPresident on the Twitter Voter Report campaign we proprosed two weeks.  And wow, what a two week’s it’s been as this idea has totally caught on with voter protection and adovcacy groups and hackers.  Here’s the update in full:

In the two weeks since we first proposed using Twitter to report election day problems and challenges, both the response to the idea and how it has evolved has been, frankly, remarkable. The established groups who work in election protection have been amazingly receptive to the adoption of an open format for vote reporting, eager to benefit from a combined effort. And a collection of excellent developers and activists are at work building out the protocol and tools for making the most of the resulting data. While work on the project is pretty fluid, we’re going to give you an update on where things stand today.

First off, the partnerships formed have been outstanding. They include working relationships between non-partisan groups like Election Protection coalition (the umbrella organization behind the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline), Rock the Vote, Credo Mobilize, the Voter Suppression Wiki, Demos, the League of Young Voters, the Open Resource Group, NPR, and, of course, techPresident and Personal Democracy Forum. A constantly updated list of partners is available on the wiki up at twittervotereport.com, which serves the hub for the project.

In addition to recommending people use the basic #votereport hashtag for all Twitter-based reporting of voting problems, conversations with partners and contributors has evolved further standardized tagging that suit our need to keep the reporting as simple as possible for Twitterers and useful for watchdog groups and other voters. The tags include:

  • Secondary tags — #machine for troubles with a voting machine, #registration for registration problems, and #wait:time (e.g. #wait:90) for extended wait times.
  • #EP[two letter state code] for serious legal issues; for example #EPOH for Ohio: The Election Protection coalition’s local staffers will be tracking those hashtags for troubles, and a guide is being developed to detail what sort of problems should be reported with an EP tag.
  • zipcode: This is the most universally known geographic tag that provides a valuable resolution of data.

A superb collection of developers have been working together to build out the project, and there’s some very neat stuff in the works. (We don’t want to mention anyone in particular at the risk of leaving out valuable contributors. Again, check out the wiki to see who is working on what.) We’re looking at visualizations from Twittervision to Google Maps to Plodt and more. There may be an iPhone application, with a built-in call tool that automates some of the reporting. And plans are forming for a nationwide “jam session” for programmers to work on building out the project on Friday, October 24th.

Analyzing the tweets tagged with #votereport after the fact will be immensely valuable. We are aware of the need to ensure that the tweets are captured and stored for further assessments, and so a system is being set up to archive the tweets in an open database, available to anyone who wants it. That discussion is happening on the wiki.

There are, of course, still issues to be worked out. With 14 days and counting to Election Day, a few of them:

  • How do we reach out to groups that interact with people who have traditionally experienced voter suppression, so that this effort doesn’t end up as a neat pastime for the Twittering class but misses the people and communities most in need of real help?
  • Is it necessary to have assigned “sweepers” to monitor tweets in real time to look for patterns and pass along potential problems to election protection experts, or will the organic response fill that role?
  • How do you balance advanced hashtags (which are being discussed on the wiki here) with usability, so that people can construct a good tweet in the field without being bogged down in details?
  • How to best clarify where this efforts fits into the spectrum between projects like PBS and YouTube’s Video Your Vote and the 866-OUR-VOTE efforts?
  • How to invite and involve communities of people who may be unfamiliar with Twitter and might consider the effort beyond their technical know-how?

Stay tuned (or, better yet, join in) as we continue to refine the effort, add partners and build out the tools. Jump into the mix on our Google Group, edit the wiki, follow @votereport on Twitter, or keep an eye on this space and leave a comment here. And, of course, tag your vote report tweets with #votereport. Ready or not, we’re gearing up to tweet our votes.

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Top 5 Reasons You Won't Be Able to Vote

Top 5 Reasons You Won’t Be Allowed to Vote
(As Posted on Huffington Post here)

Enormous efforts have been made by campaigns and public interest groups to register people to vote on November 4th.  According to the Election Assistance Commission more than 2 million poll workers will be working at over 200,000 polling places this election.  Unfortunately, what these new voters don’t know is that just registering to vote may not ensure that they are able to vote on Election Day or that their vote will be counted. Here are the top 5 ways that voters will be disenfranchised before and on Election Day.

1.    Twenty-seven states close their voter registration the first week of October; another 12 will follow shortly thereafter. Too many states continue to cut off registration just as most people are beginning to tune into the election. Election Day Registration (EDR) in nine states (Maine, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Iowa, North Carolina) has demonstrated that it is an efficient and problem-free way for 10-12% more citizens to participate on Election Day.
2.    The Social Security Administration is shutting down its database, the one needed to verify registrations for people without state-issued IDS for three days in mid-October.  This “routine maintenance” putting in jeopardy the ability of forty-one, slow moving states to verify millions of new registrants in time for Election Day for voters without state-issued IDs.  (Here is a letter sent by the National Association of Secretaries of State asking the SSAS to move the maintenance until after November.) Millions of people may have properly filled out their registration forms but not make it onto the roles if this maintenance continues as scheduled.
3.    Voter Purge, a report released from the Brennan Center for Justice this week reveals that, “election officials across the country are routinely striking millions of voters from the rolls through a process that is shrouded in secrecy, prone to error, and vulnerable to manipulation.” Millions of names will be struck from voter registration roles in advance of the November 4th election – and your name is struck in error you won’t know until you show up at the polls – and it’s too late to change it.
4.    As I have written before, the new machines are no better than the old machines which were much worse than hand ballots. During the primary season, municipalities were testing optical scan machines, and many failed.  Others have been furiously buying new machines that won’t be tested before November 4th. The new machines are no better than the old machines which were much worse than hand ballots. How many times will we hear on election night that votes have been cast and lost or just plain lost?  Moreover, how many elections are we going to keep hearing this?
5.    You remember those pictures form 2004 and 2006 of voters waiting for hours to cast their ballots – up to 12 hours in some cases in the rain and cold.  Our voting system is a mechanical engineer’s nightmare. The biggest bottleneck in the process of voting is checking in to ensure that voters are registered to vote – this is a human interaction that is slow and tedious.  It’s the same reason that the lines at Starbucks are so long. I spoke to a person in the registrar’s office in Fairfax County, VA who told me that they had increased the number of recruited poll workers from 2,600 in 2004 to 3,100 this year, with more to come by the deadline on Monday. Monday coincides with the voter registration deadline in Virginia which has already seen an almost 6% increase in voter registration statement from January –September 15th.  But here’s the real problem:  There is no way to know until Election Day if they will a) show up, b) been adequately trained for the job and c) are enough of them to account for the expected surge in voting in critical voting areas like Cuyahoga County, OH, Palm Beach County, FL.

So register to vote — and then cross your fingers that you your vote will be cast and counted on Election Day – in some states your chances aren’t so good.

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