New App Democratizes Election Monitoring
Written by Jack Mumby
This week, Common Cause has been shining a spotlight on True The Vote and other voter intimidation groups, and the dirty tricks they’ll be using to keep Americans from voting this election. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, of course, but our country is going to have a bad case of ballot-bullyitis this November, and we need a big dose of preventative medicine.
That’s where you come in- we’re going to need folks like you to volunteer at the polls on Election Day to educate voters about their rights, keep an eye out for voter intimidation, and make sure machine failure or long lines don’t keep anyone from exercising their rights. And, thanks to a new app by Common Cause NY, Reboot, and WebSava, coordinating and mobilizing with your fellow volunteers just got a lot easier.
The app, called PollWatchUSA, lets anybody with a smartphone report irregularities at their polling place in real time. The app will let you report understaffing, overcrowding, ballot bullies, and anything else that could go wrong, then lets local volunteers know where they’re most needed.
This is a huge step forward for anybody who cares about democracy. Every American has a civic duty to make sure that our elections are fair and accessible for everyone, especially for folks who are typically shut out of the political process. On their own, well-meaning people might be able to help out confused voters, or keep an eye out for funny business for the short time they spend at the polls, but there’s only so much you can do alone.
Thanks to PollWatchUSA, however, there’ll be thousands of vigilant pairs of eyes at every precinct looking out for problems. With the press of a button, folks can get in touch with local officials our nationwide network of poll volunteers to fix any that arise.
Two races in tomorrow’s New York Democratic primary are serving as a dry run for the app, and civic organizers are dispatching volunteers armed with the app to make sure everything goes smoothly. Don’t take this to mean that this app is just for Democrats, however- fair elections are a nonpartisan issue, and no matter your political persuasion, you can play a role in protecting democracy.
Jack Mumby is a 2012 graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he campaigned for wage justice and other progressive causes and earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Policy. He is currently working as an intern with Common Cause’s national office.