Solving Voter Confusion
You can find almost anything online, but until recently, tht didn't include voting locations. That's why a few years ago the Pew Charitable Trusts took on a project to provide easy, online access to voter information. Pew's director of election initiatives David Becker told us Friday the Voting Information Project (VIP) has evolved from offering polling place info online to voters in some states in '08 to now providing polling place and ballot info for all voters nationwide in '12, and 24 state primaries and general elections this year.
Offering up-to-date voting info online is arduous, since every jurisdiction has to be contacted, but Pew is working with Google and other tech companies to automate the process. David says jurisdictions will be able to update their own voting info for elections ranging from the electing the president to the local sheriff. The automated process for all states is still another two to three years away, but several will get there this year. Pew is also working with EngageDC on a feature called ElectionDesk to allow jurisdictions to get instant feedback from voters using social media to talk about what's going on at polling places. Problems can be fixed immediately even before the media starts widely reporting them. (Forget "I voted" stickers; now you get a hashtag.)
It's unknown how VIP has affected voter turnout, but there were over 25 million look-ups in '12, David says. VIP tries to reduce problems like long lines caused by people going to the wrong polling place. New Jersey and New York voters used it after Hurricane Sandy forced many polling places to move within days of the election. With such a mobile population, Pew has also worked with states to improve voter registration. Many are now sharing data on people who have moved or died and are building online registration systems. David says seven states and DC will have more accurate voter lists than ever before because of Pew's Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC.