Civic Engagement and LinkNYC

By Intersection

Back when LinkNYC was just an idea, we envisioned a service that, in addition to providing the largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network in existence, phone calls, and access to city services, could become a platform for civic engagement.

Last week, we proudly took a step towards that vision by launching direct access to voter registration on every Link throughout the City.

Voting in local, state, and federal elections is the cornerstone of a democracy. But, for one reason or another, far too few of us exercise our right to vote. What’s a simple way to increase participation? Make eligibility easy for people by reaching them where they actually are. Rather than taking time to print, fill out, and mail in paperwork, or even remembering to go online, how about completing the same task using a Link that you’re passing by on your way to work? Those two 55" digital displays also provide a pretty handy reminder.

Now let’s be clear. Easing an obstacle to voter registration doesn’t entirely solve the problem of low turnout — getting to the polls on Election Day is another story — but we see it as an important step towards a more empowered, engaged, and evenly represented electorate.

Someday, Links could facilitate interactive town halls with candidates, or enable participatory budgeting, or maybe (just maybe!) become polling booths in their own right. We don’t know what democracy will look like 10 years from now, but we recognize technology’s duty to be a part of the solution. This is only the beginning.

New Yorkers, you have until October 14 to register to vote. Find a Link near you and make your voice heard this November.

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