By Leigh Freund
We are now just 70 days from the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Between the constant commercials and upcoming debates, Americans are making their decisions. But, too often, voters do not know critical Election Day information like where they will vote, what they will need to get a ballot, or even what’s on the ballot.
To make sure voters can find accurate information, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Google, and state election officials joined forces to create the Voting Information Project (VIP). VIP’s 50-state, free resource tells voters what they need to know to cast a ballot on or before Election Day – all without requiring any personally identifiable information.
On Wednesday, August 31, 2016, I will be joined by leaders from Pew for an NAI webinar to discuss this important project and share information on how NAI members can get involved.
One of the things I like most about NAI members is that they are industry leaders who give back to their communities by, among other things, applying innovative technologies to help society. For example, NAI members have been instrumental in helping the Federation for Internet Alerts (FIA) deliver critical severe weather warnings and AMBER alerts to geo-targeted audiences, saving many lives in the process. VIP is another opportunity to use innovative technologies to solve a very real societal challenge.
VIP was founded to address the problems caused by a lack of centralized, reliable Election Day information. I know NAI members will be excited about the opportunity to learn more about VIP and find ways to work together.
VIP has a track record of success. In the days before the 2014 mid-term election, their website and services helped more than 31 million people find their polling places and get ballot information via web search, Facebook, media websites, third party groups, and more.
During the webinar, we will explore some of VIP’s features including:
- GettothePolls.com, a website that allows voters to enter their addresses and find the locations and hours of their polling places, as well as get ballot information.
- A short messaging service (SMS) tool that provides voters with election information via text message in 10 languages.
- The Voting Information Tool, a mobile-friendly, customizable tool that can be placed on a website and used to provide official voting information, including polling locations, in 16 languages.
We will also discuss the ways in which companies can boost VIP’s work, especially through unsold advertising space. It is important to remember that some voters will not seek out voting information, which makes it all the more important that it be accessible on websites that users frequent and trust. We’ll also want to hear from webinar participants about other ideas for spreading the word.
With early voting beginning in some states in about one month, this webinar is timely and relevant. We are looking forward to our discussion on how businesses can help voters make their voices heard in the 2016 election. Please join us!