Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Voting Hacks Part 2: New Voting App for Appleton

[Today's guest post is by David Kieffer]

Hey All,

I’m David Kieffer, designer/cofounder at Kieffer Bros. (we make small puzzles games - http://kiefferbros.com/), and I am also a volunteer community manager at The Avenue HQ (The coworking space, downtown Appleton - http://theavenuehq.com/). I’ve been getting excited about the DHMN Civic Hackathon coming up on Saturday, June 6th, and I wanted to share a proposal for something we could work on.

An important part of being involved in the civic process is being an informed voter. I’ve been voting for over a decade now, and ever since I’ve always found the research process to be quite time consuming. One of the obstacles is figuring out what specifically will be on your ballot before you vote.

This process can be tricky and off-putting. Depending on what neighborhood you live in, your ballot may be slightly different from your neighbor’s across the street. Finding this info on the city website, then having to remember the correct ward and district is the first roadblock. Then downloading a PDF image of the ballot and trying to understand your choices with a hard-to-read, clunky layout is even more frustrating. This all adds up to a time consuming process and really gets in the way of researching and understanding what you are voting on.

The whole process could be optimized with a simple webpage or app that let’s you type in your address, and out pops your ballot in a well-designed, readable format that is easy to use for reference and research. I have no idea whether the ballot data would be easily parseable, and how and when the city releases the data for each election, but I am personally excited about working on the UX side of this idea.

We could eventually take it a step further and show you a map of your ward, let you know who your alderperson is (with contact info), and show you your polling location. Listed candidates could be linked to web searches making the research process even more accessible. We could even build a voter alert email signup.

Ultimately this idea is about harnessing the ballot info that is already available and making it more accessible — making civic involvement in Appleton an easier, friendlier process. Anyways, that's the idea. I'm not sure if it's practical or doable, but if we can build it, it'd be really cool. I'm looking forward to hearing other ideas too. Come to the DHMN Civic Hackathon at Lawrence University on Saturday, June 6th.


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