Missed our virtual civic tech tools fair featuring presentations from Vote411, BallotReady, Rock the Vote, Democracy Works, Register2Vote, Vote.org, and State Voices? We had a BIG turnout and lots of questions but not nearly enough time to answer them all.
So here are some answers to the most often asked questions that just didn’t make the cut:
Q: Can you talk at all about access to voting for people with disabilities?
- I can answer for the League of Women Voters – one thing we are prioritizing is ensuring in-person voting opportunities remain possible for voters, especially those with disabilities. While many voters will benefit from mail-in voting and other newer options, it’s clear many voters need and want in-person opportunities. Elections offices must also provide accomodations for voters who need them; anyone experiencing a challenge while voting can call the Election Protection Hotline, which will be able to help voters live on Election Day. All partners on this call will likely be promoting the hotline during election season.
- At BallotReady, we take availbility for those with disabilities very seriously. Our tools are customizable and can be confugred to meet disability guidelines and we are constantly adapting to include more voters
- Register2Vote.org has recently completed an accessibility review to ensure the online form is usable by modern screen readers for people with disabilities. Our team is always ready to help at: email@example.com or (833) 734-8683 if you have questions or problems.
- Accessibility for our online voter registration tool is a priority for our team at Rock the Vote. We regularly conduct accessibility reviews and partner with other nonprofits geared toward voters with disabilities to improve our existing platform.
Q: Could the organizers provide a list of the various tools discussed, along with the associated fees/costs?
- VOTE411 is free for use!
- Register2Vote.org is the only voter registration embed that prints and mails voters their registration form, with a postage-paid return envelope, at no cost to them if they aren’t able to register to vote online. MapTheVote.org is a web-based, person-to-person voter registration and activation app. SponsoreTheVote.org allows anyone to chip-in to donate the money needed to send pre-addressed, postage-paid voter registration applications to unregistered voters in any neighborhood. As donations come in, the map changes color in real-time until a region is 100% funded.
- The cost of the BallotReady tool is dependent on the depth of the ballot and size of organization. I would love to talk about pricing specifically to your organization. You can schedule a meeting with me by clicking here to discuss your goals for this cycle and determine cost: https://calendly.com/katherine-vote/meeting/
- For Rock the Vote, we covered our online voter registration platform & our forthcoming digital canvassing interface that will plug into the OVR platform. We always make free versions of our tools available to all partners; for a more customized tool, please email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will scope out those customizations with you via email!
Q: What about voters with no internet access? Do any of the presenters have good ways to reach these voters?
- LWV still does a lot of work on paper and through community partners who have direct access to voters without internet. So, for example, we print paper versions of our VOTE411 information/voters’ guides in hundreds of communities to ensure the information still gets into the hands of voters.
- Register2Vote.org is able to send targeted mailers with pre-filled forms and a postage-paid envelope to individuals across the United States.
- While Rock the Vote‘s online registration platform does require internet or data access, we do have voter registration toolkits that can help support activations without internet connectivity. Our forthcoming canvasser platform can also allow you to use the online platform to canvass with registrants who themselves do not have an internet connection, when that can safely resume in your area. Please email our team at email@example.com for more info.
Q: How will the elections officials receive the application?
- Hi there, Rock the Vote here! (I believe this was asked during my presentation.) This depends based on the user flow — sometimes it’s via a seamless submission from our platform, sometimes it’s through directing the user to their state site to finish online, and sometimes it’s through supplying a PDF form for them to submit to their local election official.
- Register2Vote provides a postage-paid envelope for you to mail in your application. We will track your envelope to ensure that it arrives safely from us to you, and from you to your County.
Q: When someone uses one of these online voter registration tools, are they informed that their information will be collected as part of a database?
- On the Vote.org tool, this is shared in the opt-in langauge below the red button to submit information.
- Register2Vote collects personal information in order to help our users register to vote and request mail-in ballots. We take great care to ensure that this information remains private. We do not sell our user information, nor do we distribute any personal user data for any purpose other than providing you with the voting information and services you have requested. When you provide Register2Vote with contact information, we offer custom settings that allow you to control how and when we use it.
- Yes, we provide users options to opt in. – Rock the Vote
Q: Are you being able to update locations as so many precincts are having to move due to COVID19?
- Yes, we are working around the clock to update the precinct information as it changes. When needed, we at least link out to a local or state election site where last minute changes are published. This is a HUGE priority for our team.
- Register2Vote, our MapTheVote doorknocking tool, and our fundraising map, are all updated live when the updated precinct files are released.
A: What are the laws around notaries for mail-in or absentee ballots?
- Three states require the absentee/mailed ballot envelope to be notarized: Mississippi, Missouri and Oklahoma. You can view the full state by state map at NCSL here https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/absentee-and-early-voting.aspx under the section Processing, Verifying and Counting Absentee Ballots
A: Is there a cyber security certification of these tools from some credible body?
- I’m not sure if there’s a certification across the different tools, but happy to share more about our security and data privacy practices if you’d like to learn more. Feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Hi there, Rock the Vote‘s platform has undergone external audits to comply to several security standards, including the federal NIST 800-53 information security standard recommended to state to secure their election systems.
Q: Is there any way for an organization to get ‘feedback’ regarding how many people successfully register through Rock the Vote coming through a particular non-profit? (i.e., can we get stats to satisfy funders?)
- Yes! You’ll have access to the data of all the users of the tool, and we can provide matchback statistics of those who registered & those who turned out.
Q: Is there a list of states who can/can’t pre-register 16 & 17 year olds? We do registrations in high schools….would be awesome!
- Vote. org also has a “pledge to register” tool for 13-18 year olds to sign up to get a text on their 18th birthday to remind them to register.
Q: Who or what database does the digital canvassing tool access?
- The digital canvassing tool will plug into your Rock the Vote online registration tool, so the data you collect from digital canvassing will be available to match to the voter file. All data will be matched to the Catalist voter file. 🙂
Q: Vote.org do you have option for pre-registration in states where available or just the pledge to register?
- I would say pre-register is definitely a good option but is only available in a few states so the pledge to reg tool (available nationwide) can help in states that don’t offer it, or to supplement pre-registration!
Questions about Vote411:
Q: If local/state Leagues don’t put in down-ballot candidates, is there a way to produce an accurate “personal ballot”?
- The League is working to fill in the blanks for candidates who don’t provide information, with at least basic info like a name and contact information, so that voters can have a full personal ballot!
Q: Is there a way to get the candidate data without giving your address?
- There is a way to search all the different candidate information we have in a full state – though it is much more efficient to do so via address! We do not collect or use the address data in any way on the candidate guide.
Q: How do you access the covid page?
- www.VOTE411.org/coronavirus – or you’ll see a big alert about it at the top of the page!
Q: Maggie how do you pick the questions to ask?
- Great question! We look at public opinion polling to determine the top issues on voters’ minds; state and local League affililates also do so with a mind toward local issues affecting their communities.
Q: How does information get on 411? Are candidate forums available for viewing?
- Yes – we promote candidate forums and debate footage where available. In 2018, we had information about approximately 600 forums/debates on the site.
Q: Vote411- when will information on candidates be available prior to the election ( 6 weeks? 4 weeks?)
- Usually about a month, though ballot information (who’s officially going to appear on the ballot) is published differently by state. Candidates answering the questions are published on a rolling basis as they come in.
Q: Do you have to be a member of LWV to use the vote411 tool? And to share the info with others? (I’m with another organization, but this is excellent info)
- Absolutely not! Please do share it – we usually have a few hundred organizations linking to us in big election years. WE’d love to have you on board!
Q: Vote411 – how do I find those printables please? 30-50% of my county has no internet. Thanks!!!!
- Best thing to do would be contacting your local League of Women Voters to see what they have available locally – search for your local chapter at lwv.org – thanks!
Q: Regarding 411 do the individual leagues have to enter the candidate information
- Many local/state Leagues do complete this information, though where this isn’t happening, our national team helps fill in the gaps.
Questions about BallotReady:
Q: Does Ballot Ready also support collection of signatures for petitions?
- Our pledge tool can certainly be configured for this use case!
Q: How does your tracking the ballot to election official work?
- BallotReady reaches out to every county office in the country and obtain shapefiles to match voters with their ballots
Q: With your Plan to Vote feature, are you planning to use any information about what to expect when voting in person during the pandemic (wear a mask, social distancing in lines, etc)?
- We are still working on determining the exact details of what information to provide. However, our tool is built to accomodate these alerts!
Q: Can we build a voter guide with Ballot Ready, i.e. can we create a full list of the candidates and issues that would be particularly relevant to our Urban Indian community?
- Absolutely. Our voter guides are fully customizable. You can learn more by setting up a meeting with out team here: https://calendly.com/ballotready-demo-1/civicengine/
Q: Are the candidates’ positions updated on BallotReady if the candidate changes her/his position after the initial posting?
- We do conduct multiple rounds of research to pick up these changes. Users amd customers can also submit corrections directly to our data team
Questions for State Voices:
Q: For Reach, what pricing plan are you all using? We had looked into it but the cost was pretty high for us to support chapters across multiple states.
- We provide Reach to our state partners at a discounted rate. The pricing varies by state. (StateVoices)
Q: Can state voices please provide a direct link to the 23 page guide mentioned in the presentation. I’m currently on the website searching but not sure what I’m looking for. Thanks.
- It’s not on our website. To get access, please subscribe to our Inside Voices newsletter. When you first go to the website, you’ll see a popup window to subscribe. If you’re not seeing it, it’s most likely because you already dismissed the popup. Try going to our website again using Incognito mode or a different browser. You can also subscribe here: https://mailchi.mp/statevoices/insidevoices
Questions for Register2Vote and Map the Vote:
Q: Is Register2Vote available in NJ where online registration is approved, but has a delayed start?
- yes it is. Register2Vote works in every state. We use the print and mail option when online registration does not apply and we update it constantly
Q: For mapthevote.org, how often is the VR db updated?
- it’s real time. When a partner registers someone by mail, online, or in person, or the state provides an update, we literally modify the database in real time. It’s as up to date as we can possibly make it
Q: Can you use the info to do a post card campaign?
- you sure can. We’ve worked with Postcards to Voters, VoteFWD, and SwingLeft in the past, as well as numerous local organizations and candidates. Feel free
Q: How do you get the info when the election officials have processed the ballot does that mean counting the ballot?
- some counties (most major ones) provide nightly updates on who has voted and had their ballot counted. In some cases, we are also able to get lists of provisional ballots to do chase on people who need to cure their ballot
Q: Register2Vote, how do you know who has already voted?
- depending on the county, you can either access publicly available lists of the VUIDs for people who have voted or go through various request processes to get that list. We then match that to known voter files and update it on the map in real time
Q: With the MapTheVote, can we get an Excel type print out of a list of unregistered voters in a community?
- not at this time. For obvious privacy reasons, we do not want to provide that in a public website. We are happy to work with you privately otherwise
Q: I can see how the Register2Vote app can be very powerful but also could be seen as very invasive. Maybe I don’t want my neighbors coming and asking me why I haven’t registered or voted. Especially ex-felons or immigrants could feel very intimidated by this. Are you getting push-back?
- We have not gotten that push back and we all use our own tool. We have registered more than 25,000 people in the past 12 months with MapTheVote. We provide options to remove people from the platform based on those options and we never keep track of why someone might not be eligible, but there is an option to record if someone’s eligibility might change on a future date
Q: Jeremy, what did you mean by conversion rate?
- the percentage of people who completed the form, sent it back to their county (tracked by USPS barcode), and then ended up on the voter rolls out of everyone we sent mail to.