Every Voter A Volunteer
Talented team of “hackers” at the Personal Democracy Forum’s Civil Society Hackathon took Common Cause/NY’s good idea and, in 2 days, turned it into a first-prize winning app: PollWatchUSA app allows voters to use cell phones to crowd-source real-time poll monitoring.
The problem: weird (and sometimes illegal) things happen on election days, and it’s a big job to monitor and report issues in time to resolve them the same day.
The traditional fix: volunteers go through extensive training and are assigned to cover districts where problems are expected to arise. The method for reporting issues include the Election Protection and Common Cause/NY & NYPIRG’s Election Day Hotline, where additional volunteers compile reports and work to convey critical issues to local election authorities.
The question: why not get voters involved in poll monitoring, using a method of communication that is instant, trackable, and widely available?
The fix: PollWatchUSA, a new cell phone app proposed by Common Cause/NY, which won first place in the Personal Democracy Forum’s Applied Hackathon. Programmers Jeremy Canfield, Volkan Unsal, John Yung, and Kathryn Peters worked with Common Cause/NY staffers Sam Massol and Susan Lerner to develop the mobile app that allows voters to report polling place problems in real time through their cell phones. The reports show up on a web-based map and can be looped in to a hotline number.
The PollWatchUSA team will present their app to the more than 800 attendees of the Personal Democracy Forum at NYU’s Skirball Theater this afternoon. And perhaps all voters will get a chance to protect their own votes in November!