How was your voting experience?

4 mins read
"2008 Presidential election early Voting Lines, Charlotte." Photo by James Willamor. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Long lines. Not enough ballots. Broken voting machines…

Voter suppression thrives in the dark. How often is voting related mischief reported after an election? Why is it that thousands of drivers can report traffic conditions immediately, but voting issues go undetected till much later?

A pilot program between Common Cause  and  DemLabs  using  Esri technology will collect details on voting challenges during the upcoming Nov 2019 elections.


Crowdsourcing collects information from thousands of people.  It’s faster and more accurate than any news channel. Waze analyzes reports on traffic conditions shared by drivers to alert others of possible delays and detours. Their system relies on a mobile app, high speed data analysis and an easy to understand visualization.

Businesses innovate continuously to better serve customers and gain a competitive advantage. Democracy works better when more voters are heard and can share their voting experiences to improve the election process.

Common Cause has a comprehensive Election Protection program that puts nonpartisan volunteer poll monitors into the field. This voter survey system is an additional resource. It uses existing affordable, Survey123 technology  to crowdsource data from voters after they have voted, to provide real-time visibility  and collect details for future analysis.

How it works

This voter survey app crowdsources voter feedback. It is based on Survey123 and can easily process thousands of simultaneous submissions. Voters receive the app in the form or a link (URL) or by scanning a QR Code. The link can be used on any smartphone to share voting experiences – without having to instal a mobile app. Submissions from voters are stored in a database for later analysis and reporting.

Design considerations

Crowdsourcing is possible by the widespread use of mobile phones and broad internet access, affordable cloud-based processing and advanced software. A good solution has to:

  1. Handle thousands of incident reports at the same time.
  2. Analyze data quickly in time for action to be taken.
  3. Be easy for people to learn and use quickly.
  4. Be easy to share the app with a link or a QR code that can be placed near polling locations.
  5. Include details on how to get immediate help  from a hotline if needed.
  6. Present the results visually on a map
  7. Save the data collected for further analysis.

The technology for this already exists and does not require new software development.

Example of poster that could be placed near a polling location
to provide link to the survey form.


Esri location intelligence technology is a fifty year old firm based in Redlands, California and the global leader in Geographical Information Systems (GIS). esri has over 3,800 employees with annual revenues exceeding a billion dollars. It’s customers include the US Government, engineering, public safety, transport, disaster response and education. Survey123 is a form-centric solution for creating, sharing and analyzing surveys. It collects data from mobile devices, even without internet access. 


“We need a democracy where all voices are heard. Common Cause wins concrete, pro-democracy reforms that break down barriers to participation, ensure each of us has an equal voice and vote, and rebuild trust in our government.”

What better use of technology than to protect democracy?

Co-Founder, DemLabs

Please share this bulletin. DemLabs is a SF-based, hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation for progressives. Donate here to support our work.

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Democracy Labs is a hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation that serves progressive campaigns and organizations at the national, state, and local levels.

Our focus is on long term, sustainable and affordable solutions. An approach that is longer than an election cycle, and isn’t purely dependant on volunteers, can enable more qualified candidates to run for office and for more issue groups to bring about positive social change.

Democracy Labs is a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund.

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