Introducing the new VoteWithMe

Let’s win in November. Let’s fix this mess.

Mikey Dickerson
Sep 13, 2018 · 4 min read
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Today The New Data Project launches a new version of VoteWithMe, our free, easy-to-use mobile app that lets you amplify your impact in the November election by finding and encouraging your like-minded friends to vote. It’s up and running and available now in the Apple and Android app stores.

How it works: First we help you check your own registration status and vote history, because voting yourself is the first most important thing to do. Then, with your permission, we look up the voter data for the people you know, using your contact list. When we find someone, we show you relevant information about their local elections, their registration status, and whether they have voted in past elections. We’ll suggest text messages that might be appropriate to send to them. But we never put words in your mouth or send messages without asking. You push the button yourself.

We know, asking your friends to do things is awkward. That’s why it is so much more powerful than talking to strangers. We’ve done the science and found that messages from friends are about twenty times more effective at encouraging voter turnout than other common methods.

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“This is the greatest piece of technology since the horseless carriage,” — not a real user quote, but I’m pretty sure she was thinking it.

You may have seen similar apps before, but you haven’t seen this one. We don’t force you to register with us or with any other group. We don’t put you on an email list, because we don’t have one. The app contains no ads, and we never ask you to donate money. You have to grant us permission to access your contact list, because looking up your contacts in the voter file is what the app does. And that’s the only thing it does. We do not permanently save your contacts, and they are not being sold to or shared with anyone.

Why are we doing this differently? When I worked on the 2008 and 2012 campaigns to elect President Obama, data and technology were a critical part of how we won. In those innocent times, advertising to Prius owners on Facebook was edgy and innovative. Since then, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have pushed the boundaries and forced us to wonder where tailored marketing crosses over to unethical manipulation. You probably have mixed feelings about the data reach and mass surveillance used by political campaigns. So do we.

VoteWithMe is powered by public records that most people don’t realize are public. Campaigns have used these records for decades, and sometimes have taken steps to prevent you from realizing it. We feel that as long as this data exists, regular people not on a political payroll should be able to see and use it, too. VoteWithMe packages up a campaign back office and puts it in your hand, minus the empty pizza boxes and whiskey bottles. Trust me, VoteWithMe smells better.

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Testing in Pennsylvania in March 2018.

We don’t think anyone has done this before. We hope you like using VoteWithMe as much as our hundreds of UX interviews suggest you will. And if so, please, spread the word to your friends.

Benjamin Franklin famously said to the people gathered on the steps outside Independence Hall that the new government was “a Republic, if you can keep it.” We can keep it a little longer, only if enough of us bother to vote. VoteWithMe can help.

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In the current climate, causes and campaigns too often lack the time, expertise, and flexibility to work beyond immediate deadlines. The New Data Project (NDP) is a new 501(c)(4) organization built to address this gap by testing new approaches, looking beyond the current cycle, and serving as an advanced technology research lab for progressives.

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