Canvassers help Americans without cell phone service or internet access register to vote

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Canvassers help Americans without cell phone service or internet access register to vote

Canvassers take digital voter registration lists with them to areas without cell phone service to help unregistered voters.

Lack of cell phone service denies many Americans their right to vote and makes it harder for voting rights advocates to help them. It’s hard to register online, learn about upcoming elections, dates and polling locations without connectivity. Canvassers cannot check to see if someone has been purged from the voter rolls.

It’s a vicious cycle. Not having cell service or internet access holds back many communities. Resident cannot vote and lose their political power. They are denied the political representation by which to demand resources for their communities. Rural communities, tribal lands and low income housing in urban areas suffer the most from a lack of connectivity.

“States have requirements on who is eligible to request a voter registration lists, what information the list contains, and how the information may be used” – NCSL. These lists (also called Voter Files) change as voters added and removed. How can canvassers take the latest version of the voter file with them so they can check to see if the person they are meeting with is registered to vote or not?

Voting rights advocates now have an affordable solution. Canvassers take a digital copy of the latest voter file with them with the Voter File To Go app.

Take the voter file with you when canvassing in areas without cellular coverage.

Voter File To Go

Areas without cell phone service is a “Consumer Generated Coverage Map™” of outdoor coverage issues and indoor vs outdoor cell reception problems locations The map shows buildings, homes, parks, resorts, stadiums, hospitals and public places where cell phone calls are frequently dropped, network congestion is experienced or where a cell phone cell signal strength is not available. Its map database of over 100,000+ cell phone complaints, dropped calls and data congestion areas contributed by actual customers. 

Canvassing for unregistered voters is hard in areas without cell phone service

Canvassers do better with voter registration lists

Center For Common Ground volunteers working in low income urban communities in Virginia and OPAL volunteers canvassing in rural Ohio inspired DemLabs to design this solution. Their volunteers were unable to check the voting status of the person they were meeting. They couldn’t see if the person was registered to vote or had been purged while canvassing in areas without cell service. This is how the new solution works:

  • Organizers put the latest version of the voter file that is publicly available in their online account
  • Canvassers install the VOTER FILE TO GO app on their phone or tablet computer
  • Such tablet computers cost less than $50 and can work offline without WiFi or cell service
  • Organizers provide their canvassers with tablet computers pre-loaded with the Voter File To Go app
  • Canvasser check the voting status of a person through a simple interface on the app – just like they would do if they had internet connectivity
  • The VOTER FILE TO GO app automatically is refreshed with the latest version of the Voter File when it is in an area with WiFi or cell phone service

Rules for using the Voter Registration Lists

“States have varied requirements on who is eligible to request a list of voters, what information the list contains, what information is kept confidential and how the information contained in voter lists may be used. The availability of voter lists for campaign purposes is longstanding; candidates benefit from knowing who their party’s voters are. However, not every record is publicly available.” – National Conference on State Legislators (NCSL)State Laws on Access to and Use of Voter Registration Lists

The United States Elections Project provides timely and accurate election statistics, electoral laws, research reports, and other useful information regarding the United States electoral system. The project explains how the U.S. electoral system works, how it may be improved, and how citizens can participate in it.

This wonderful resource is produced by Dr. Michael P. McDonald is Professor of Political Science at University of Florida. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from U.C. San Diego and has taught at Vanderbilt University; University of Illinois, Springfield; and George Mason University. His voter turnout research shows that turnout is not declining, the ineligible population is rising. He is a co-principle investigator on the Public Mapping Project, a project to encourage public participation in redistricting.  He is co-author with Micah Altman of The Public Mapping Project: How Public Participation Can Revolutionize Redistricting

U.S. Election information resources

TakeAway: Help all eligible Americans, even without cell phone service register to vote with the Voter File To Go app.


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Reposted from Democracy Labs with permission.

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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