The Challenge

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How might we design an accessible election experience for everyone? read the brief

Idea

Voter Help Hub: A Cental System Connecting Voters, Volunteers and Information

Voter Help Hub System is a secured network that connects, alerts and coordinates volunteers of areas needing assistance. Information is aggregated from voting survey data indicating disability assistance needs in specific communities to vote.
Voting polls usually report how many people have voted after the polls are closed. But if there was a way for us to leverage real-time information on the polling centers and communities who vote as well as those who don't to find ways to bridge this gap. One way is to do so is to create an alert for those who need extra assistance with the voting process that day and be matched with a local community member who can volunteer their time. Volunteers help by guiding the person to the polling center as well as the voting process. There are opportunities for partnerships with city government, public transportation and local private businesses to get involved by providing transportation to local polling centers. Voting is important not only on a national level, but local level. The more involved community members become and by encouraging others to vote, the more they make direct and meaningful change.
How will this concept improve election accessibility for everyone?
The Voter Help Hub System collects data from polling surveys to show the areas of need and connects people who need assistance getting to polling centers and during the voting experience. This system will provide transparency and immediate response for people on voting day. Public transportation, taxi services and voting vans will be available to transport people to their local polling center. Getting people to vote together increases the importance and community building that lacks from current voting experiences. Community members can volunteer and can get rewards from local businesses for volunteering. The system brings people together and reminds us all that voting is an important part of being a citizen regardless of disabilities. This idea is a great opportunity to collaborate on an app like "Buy Locally, Connect Locally" where volunteers can redeem their rewards at local business that are featured. Scenario with personas: Leigh, a freelance writer who works at home. She likes to get involved in community activities whenever she can. Knowing that elections are coming up, she overhears a conversation at the local coffee shop between George and Angela about how difficult it is to vote because of disabilities. She had no idea that people were having a very difficult time getting to the polling centers. She goes to the library and sees a new program called Voter Help Hub. She learns that she can volunteer the day of and help those with different types of disabilities get to and from polling centers as well as guide them through the voting process. She marks her availability and her location within a 5 mile radius. She sees her neighborhood's voting record is not that great compared to other areas. She gets her friends linked via social media networks to also sign up. For signing up and volunteer referrals, she gets a rewards to local businesses, which is a nice perk. She gets a quick training on what to expect and the brief overview on the type of disabilities she can assist with and where the local public transportation hubs are located. The day of, the Voter Help Hub updates on how well neighborhood polling centers are doing. As Leigh expected, her community is low. She gets an alert via email of someone with a disability who needs assistance nearby. She meets George at his home. Leigh then escorts him to a nearby public transportation stop to the polling center. Since George needs to bring his notes, Leigh assists George through the polling center and gets a private booth that he is able to sit down and vote further away from the regular open voting stations. He feels more at ease knowing he was able to get extra help and time to vote with the help of someone in the neighborhood.
How well does this concept adapt to the changing needs of different voter communities?
The Voter Help Hub System lets the community know of the specific area of need whether in a small town or large city. People with disabilities can call into the automatic system or enter via online to the Voter Help Hub hotline and a volunteer will be alerted that best matches the time for both volunteer and voter. Some areas are in greater need and may need more volunteers. Ultimately the system will show people how they can help their fellow community members go through the voting process. Volunteers from different backgrounds will leverage their own knowledge and involvement in various communities. The majority of people surveyed about volunteering said what would motivate them most to donate time is to make the opportunity convenient for them. Another reason was if the opportunity made a direct impact to their neighborhood. Voter Help Hub System makes it easy to volunteer in people's community and by providing their available times, they are scheduled to help. Unlike most volunteer opportunities, people may end up sitting around and not using people's times effectively. There's more work to be done to inform people about the why this cause is important, which is another big reason why people volunteer.
What kinds of resources – whether time, money, people, partnerships, technology or otherwise – will be needed to get this concept off the ground?
The first phase of the Voter Help Hub System can be locally organized on a grassroots level. People can volunteer their time with local organizations who support people with disabilities. Volunteers can mobilize together with their own vehicles and provide transportation to polling centers or help individuals with public transportation such as via MeetUp gatherings. Local government will provide a day of free public transportation to encourage voters to get to their polling centers. Taxi and car services will receive monetary benefits if they join the program. Partnerships will be made with disability vans. Awareness of this is important and working not only locally, but nationally. Training will also be necessary for volunteers and polling centers. From the feedback, training and resources will be made available for volunteers and polling centers. There could a central Wiki page for crowded-sourced information and advice in preparation for Election Day from other volunteers and voters. A quick 1-2 hour course could be offered. Upon completion, volunteer become certified in the system. Working in pairs will also be encouraged as well. The Voter Help Hub can also work in conjunction with the concept of Support community of Poll Stations & Workers: http://www.openideo.com/open/voting/concepting/create-a-support-community-of-poll-stations-workers/ It's difficult to get people to find time to volunteer let alone contribute to a cause, so finding a balance in making this process easy is important and giving them a sense of accomplishment and ability to make a direct impact and difference in the voting process as well as people's lives. In recruiting volunteers, word of mouth will be crucial. The incentives will also be an added bonus. Many people from a survey about charitable giving that I conducted for a different project noted that the belief in the cause was their top reason for giving. In giving options to donate time, money, resources or other, the majority of people said they would give money. Building in a way for people to also donate to provide necessary funding for this system if they don't have time to help could a nice alternative. Another factor that would greatly help get people to volunteer is knowing that this system is a reputable. Having other nonprofit and organizations as well as government agencies support the system will help establish the credibility for volunteers and voters. To develop the Voter Help Hub System, a secure online platform will be required. It will need money for the initial development and developers and designers to make. Content management will also be needed and people to answer calls the day of. The system will collect information from polling surveys about how many people have voted in the community throughout the day and areas that need assistance. Volunteers and organizations who can help will register with the system. They will get an alert to their phone of a specific local need in their area for the times they are available. Volunteers must register before and will get background checks and provide references. Volunteers go through an online tutorial or community meet up of what to expect and ways to help people in different situations. Polling centers will also be made aware of the volunteer roles and act as an liaison between the center and voter. Additionally, information of various polling centers will report back data in real-time as people vote. This will help inform areas of need and assistance that may lack resources. Providing meaningful visualizations will add to the urgency and importance of voting too. The polling center will be connected into this system. This will allow polling centers to report real-time information of the services they do and do not provide through the central hub as well as if report if their community needs additional help from volunteers.
My Virtual Team
Ashley Jablow Jason Wong Meena Kadri Paul Reader Whitney Quesenbery Mamta Gautam And many inspirations and concepts!

Comments

Join the conversation and post a comment.

Edmund Ng

November 15, 2013, 04:07AM
This is definitely a more comprehensive concept that I'm looking forward to. Having this come to fruition will enable the voters and electoral volunteers to be updated with the latest information. I can see lot's of synergy in this concept and I believe it will go far. Look forward to see this in fruition soon.


Edmund Ng
http://www.ceoconnectz.com

Paul Reader

March 29, 2012, 02:54AM
Annie, I'm really glad to see this amongst the winning concepts. As I said earlier this can be central to the engagement of people before during and between elections. It has the potential to embrace some of the best elements of other (non-winning) concepts and fit so well with many other winners. Will watch any information coming out of the realisation process with great interest. Well done!

Whitney Quesenbery

March 29, 2012, 12:48PM
Annie, congratulations! I love the way it engages the entire community in running an election. The power of community volunteers was a strong theme in this challenge and this concept pulls many of those ideas together in an elegant way.

Ashley Jablow

March 22, 2012, 23:15PM
I really like the inclusion of the neighborhood map that enables someone like Leigh to know how her neighborhood's voting numbers stack up to other neighborhoods. I also liked the social media integration, making it easy for Leigh to send out a call to action to her friends! Nice job during Refinement.

Arthur Grau IV

March 21, 2012, 21:16PM
http://americanselect.org does some good work on issues.

T. Annie Nguyen

March 21, 2012, 21:26PM
Thanks for the link!

Mamta Gautam

March 16, 2012, 18:30PM
Hey T.Annie, i like the way your concept establishes great connections and connectors. I would request you to have a look at my concept - http://www.openideo.com/open/voting/concepting/national-database-for-rating-voting-system/.
I think the voter help hub could take a participatory role in the data collection process and give their feedback in rating different voting systems. Tell me what you think about the concept and how can the database help your vote help hub .Cheers ! Mamta .

T. Annie Nguyen

March 18, 2012, 13:07PM
Thanks Mamta! Great concept you have as well. I definitely feel the visualizations of information is always helpful. I hope that information from polling centers would collect feedback back into the system in real-time. Incorporating your database and ratings of different voting systems would be useful to know where improvements can be made.

Dana Chisnell

March 16, 2012, 14:24PM
Cool idea. Like Ubercab for accessibility for elections. This is great for Election Day, but what about before election day? What about early voting? What about helping people get information and connect with election departments in preparation for voting?

Suilen O'Neill

March 16, 2012, 05:22AM
Great idea. How will you be sure that the volunteers don't take advantage of the voters that need addition asstance? Will it require a background check to be considered a volunteer?

Whitney Quesenbery

March 16, 2012, 14:53PM
At the workshop that developed a similar idea, we thought about a simple self-training program like the training that pollworkers receive. It could include:

- Basic training in how to find answers to questions in the election department web site.

- Volunteers would be told to look everything up, rather than try to remember details and possibly get them wrong — “Use recognition, not recall”

- They would also learn the boundaries. Their focus is election information, not partisan discussion or advice on how to voter, for example. The training might include role-playing on how to politely “deflect” a question out of the boundaries.


Examples of similar training include Certified Peer-Assistance Counselors for independent living and training on how to work with human subjects in research (such as the online course offered by the National Institutes of Health).

There would not be a ‘pass-fail’ test, but new volunteers would be encouraged to keep trying until they complete enough questions to pass, since the goal is to make sure they have learned what they need to know.

Suilen O'Neill

March 16, 2012, 17:00PM
Sending volunteers in pairs will also help with supervision.

T. Annie Nguyen

March 18, 2012, 12:51PM
Great suggestions to improve upon volunteer training and verification. This will also add upon the reputation of the system too. Thanks!

OpenIDEO

March 15, 2012, 21:44PM
T. Annie, congrats on this post joining our Top 20 shortlist! We loved your focus on tapping into 'people power' to help make elections accessible and inclusive for all.

During this Refinement phase, we're eager to hear more about these community volunteers. Perhaps there's even an opportunity to interview some current volunteers (no matter the cause they support) to see if this is something they'd like to be a part of? For more information on specific ways to iterate and update your concept, check http://bit.ly/oi_voterefine and http://www.bit.ly/oi_refine.

T. Annie Nguyen

March 18, 2012, 13:01PM
Thanks, will do!

Jason Smith

March 12, 2012, 22:55PM
I like the volunteerism aspect of getting folks to the polls who need help. But it would appear the real challenge is changing the actual voter interaction system & this solution doesn't address that.

Ashley Jablow

March 06, 2012, 19:22PM
Great concept! I really like that you've tapped into the power of volunteerism to help connect community members during elections.

One sentence caught my eye: "Community members can volunteer and can get rewards from local businesses for volunteering." What kind of rewards might a volunteer get? What kinds of businesses might want to enroll in the rewards program? Funny enough: it makes me think of your winning Vibrant Cities Challenge concept - maybe there's an app component to this that helps volunteers "claim" their rewards? (for anyone who's curious, you can see T. Annie's concept here http://bit.ly/yrf2TR)

Jason Wong

March 08, 2012, 07:44AM
It is great to get philanthropic businesses involved in rewarding community members and voluntary individuals who are dedicated to serving the public in any major social event (not just election day alone). Perhaps, your local Starbucks might help those on duty to be constantly on their toes. A free caffeine boost is rewarding enough.

T. Annie Nguyen

March 08, 2012, 08:24AM
Thanks Ashley and Jason! I think a few business may already reward citizens for voting, but making it more formal for those who volunteer can incentivize them to sign up to help. Like you mentioned Ashley, incorporating an app like the buy locally could be a great collaboration to redeem the rewards.

Whitney Quesenbery

February 29, 2012, 05:02AM
Very interesting idea. This could be a great complement to some of the community network ideas (Community Clerks, Voting Assistants, Voter Support Network), but adds a really nice dimension around transportation.

T. Annie Nguyen

February 29, 2012, 19:08PM
Thanks Whitney! There's a lot of great concepts and see opportunities develop them further together.

Paul Reader

February 27, 2012, 09:34AM
Excellent T. Annie!
Complementary ideas to Votepools - very comprehensive.

Meena Kadri

February 27, 2012, 07:03AM
Great visualisations, T Annie. Given it's a very big picture concept you've got going on here – we're expecting lively discussion and questions from the community. Be sure to incorporate developments to your concept using the Update Entry button up there on the right.

You might like to start by thinking about how folks who face challenges around language, hearing, speaking and comprehension might contact the hub for assistance. I see that you've currently listed calling in as the option. Would be great to evolve this further to make the system more inclusive and accessible?

T. Annie Nguyen

February 29, 2012, 18:56PM
Thanks for the suggestions Meena! Hoping to add more to the concept.

Meena Kadri

February 29, 2012, 19:06PM
And one more thing you might want to check out is our new Personas for Concepts tip sheet. It's a helpful outline of the kinds of accessibility needs we're designing for in this challenge: http://bit.ly/vote_personas. Perhaps you'll be inspired by one or more of the personas and have a think about how your concept could meet their needs? Because great ideas start with people, right?

Paul Reader

March 04, 2012, 13:08PM
Hi again T. Annie - I have been meaning to come back here to say what a hugely important and "central" concept this is to the process of helping people to vote.

In building on this for one of my concepts I have given your community volunteers some extra complementary tasks. In addition to collecting poll survey data I have given at least some of them the task of collaborating with city government to centralise and map polling place details that can be available online. Together with this, and more importantly, I have suggested they play a part in assessing the suitability of the polling place for access by voters of every need. Finally there may be a role for them, in conjunction with election officials, to monitor and report movements at polling places (queue length, voter throughput etc.) Of course in providing this information generally online it also becomes a resource for the Hub to assist coordinating other activities.

As a locally focused group with broader connections each hub is probably ideally placed to implement Mamta Gautam's appointment concept too ( http://www.openideo.com/open/voting/concepting/find-out-book-your-time-slot-/ )

T. Annie Nguyen

March 06, 2012, 06:02AM
Hi Paul, thanks for coming back to add your feedback. Glad that your concepts tied in more information and responsibilities to the central process as well as for sending me the appointment concept. I definitely think that could be incorporate as well. Thanks! Annie

Paul Reader

March 06, 2012, 09:02AM
Hi Annie - one of the things I really like about the Voter Help Hub is that it involves people. That's why I instinctively saw my mapping concept as a component in a broader Information System like Voter Help Hub.

Jason Wong

March 08, 2012, 07:58AM
Hi Annie - your hub can be interactively communicated among the various involving parties (or branches) via a Wiki (and preferably using a web-based project management tool like Redmine - see Redmine.org). Your concept is truly vast as compared to others' crowd-sourcing concept, and having an online Wiki might help facilitate voters to focus and better manage resources.

Rapudo Hawi

February 27, 2012, 06:30AM
this is a great innovation; i support it fully

T. Annie Nguyen

February 29, 2012, 18:52PM
Thanks Rapudo! Please let me know if you have any suggestions on the concept.
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