Laura Galos (IBM), Dan Hill (Austin American-Statesman), Ashlee Pena (Pena and Pena, PLLC), Megan Schneider (McCombs School of Business)

August 28, 2016

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Make local votes heard

Voter turnout, all Texas counties

Source: Texas Secretary of State

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People tend to prioritize national elections over state and local elections. As the chart illustrates, roughly 60% of Texans voted in the 2012 general presidential election while only 34% voted in the 2014 Texas gubernatorial election and only 11% voted in 2015 when seven propositions to amend the Texas constitution were on the ballot.

Top three reasons for not voting, Total

Illness or disability

10.8 percent

Too busy, conflicting schedule

28.2 percent

Not interested

16.4 percent

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2014

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When polled, nearly 30% of people indicated they did not vote because their schedule was too busy or they had a conflict. Additionally, 16% stated they were not interested. Let’s put that into perspective. Last May Austin voted on proposition 1 the uber/lyft proposition. While many people in Austin use uber or lyft only 17% showed up to vote in an election that affected their day-to-day life. So, the question is...how do we get people more engaged in local and state elections?

“I’ve never voted before because I didn’t feel connected to the communities where I was living. It wasn’t until I heard about a local ballot measure about a golf course I went to as a kid that I considered voting.”

-25 year old non-voter

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from my own experience, confession: I’ve never voted. Last year there was a local ballot initiative in the county where I grew up that would affect the community golf course where I spent time as a kid, and I thought “I wish I could have voted on that!” This helped us see the the opportunity in local ballot measures.

A voting reminder tool

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Make local votes heard

    • builds simple calendar reminders

    • syncs with customers’ mobile device

    • engages customers on issues important to their favorite local businesses

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Users, Frank and Michael

    • 31 years old

    • US Citizen, Latino

    • Votes every four years in general presidential elections

    • Has never voted for local issues

Michael

The quasi-engaged voter

    • Owns Frank’s Coffeehouse

    • Concerned about zoning measure on upcoming ballot

Frank

The small business owner

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Michael stops by his local coffeeshop, Frank’s, on his way home from work.

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Frank, the business owner, greets his favorite customer, Michael.

Michael asks how business is going.

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Frank tells him that he’s worried about Proposition 1, which would re-zone his coffeeshop and not allow him to conduct business there.

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Michael is concerned. Where will he get his coffee now?

Frank says he can help by voting against Prop. 1, and can sign up for a vote reminder as he pays.

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Michael is so excited to help keep his favorite coffee spot open, and calendar alerts make it easy to remember. Plus, he gets a discount on coffee next time.

Frank is delighted that his business is supported by his local customers’ votes.

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Michael goes back to Frank’s the next week.

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Projected Impact

    • Increase awareness of local and state elections

    • Build community

    • Reduce number of people who don’t vote due to scheduling or forgetfulness
    • Major Texas cities that have seen a large drop off in voting turnout in nonpresidential elections

Desired Impact

Pilot Locations

    • Calendar invite acceptance rates

    • Number of opt outs

    • Percentage of increased voters

    • Reception from business owners and users

Metrics

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Our desired impact is for the ‘sometimes’ voter to learn about their local elections in their community by setting calendar reminders about local elections. Our target pilot locations are counties around Texas like Travis, Bexar, Dallas, and Harris that demonstrated a large drop off in turnout in nonpresidential election years. For our metrics, we will measure calendar invite acceptance rates and increases in turnout during non-presidential elections.

Future tasks

    • Reduce information user enters to create a reminder

    • Here/Say matches local ballot measures to interests

    • Here/Say knows user’s polling place, registration requirements
    • Pull in local voting information

    • More context

Inform, Inform, Inform

    • Test information best for turning out users

    • Answer user’s questions without information overload

Personalize Reminders

Optimize Calendar Reminders

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To build this we would need to connect to Square and calendar apps like Google calendar, which has an API. We’d also like to simplify the creation of calendar invites for voting as much as possible. We see personalization as a huge area of opportunity. If you know how to automatically categorize ballot text, let us know. Also, it would be interesting to test the information we put in calendar reminders to see which details are most effective at turning out voters.

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    • Shareable voting day reminders
    • User who creates the reminder defines the measures, incentives

here/say 2.0

    • Personalized ballot measures, incentives
    • Other users: friend networks, media organizations
    • Filter reminders by race or topic

“Vote512”

    • Community-based GOTV website and app
    • Users set, share reminders with Here/Say
    • Users discuss measures with community

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Q & A

Icons by Christopher Reyes, Creative Stall, Icon Fair, Edward Boatman, and Phil Goodwin of the Noun Project

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Appendix

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