Digitize handwriting the easy way

People are prevented from voting in many ways. Not informing eligible felons about their right to vote is an especially cruel one.

3 mins read
Image: "Just Mercy" (Warner Bros.)

Many states allow felons to vote while they are on probation or parole. Social workers helping educate felons about their voting rights struggle with the restriction that electronic devices are banned from prisons. They have to collect information from felons on paper and manually enter it into computers – a laborious, time consuming and error-prone process. Social workers are forced to spend time they could use to help more felons on data entry!

Organizers collecting hand-written ‘Pledge To Vote’ cards and volunteer sign-ups also struggle to quickly convert hand written forms to text.

Fast, free and simple

DemLabs researched different solutions to digitize handwriting that were affordable, easy to use and accurate. We chose Pen to Print, a free app that makes it easy to digitize handwriting. It handles both individual handwritten documents and large batches of forms.

We took a picture of a handwritten form with the free version of Pen To Print to test  it. It took just a few seconds to automatically scan the photo, digitize it and save the output as text. The app is available for free and as a premium version with more features for $9.99/year.

Resources on restoring voting rights

Restore Your Vote – Helps US citizens learn how they can restore their right to vote? Up to 18 million Americans with past convictions can vote  – but they just don’t know it – because the felony disenfranchisement laws in every state can be confusing.  

National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) – background information for former felons on how to restore their voting rights.

“The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization focuses on criminal justice reform that estimated that 6.1 million Americans had been barred from voting because of felony disenfranchisement laws. Experts say that disparities in sentencing can make felony voting laws inherently discriminatory against minorities and people with low incomes.” said Dr. Shannon (N.Y. Times)


Pen to Print lets organizers help more people exercise their right vote and mobilize volunteers. Use it!

Co-Founder, DemLabs

Please share this bulletin. DemLabs is a SF-based, progressive hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation with free and affordable apps. 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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