Automated voice assistants help seniors and the disabled get to vote

4 mins read

Automated voice assistants help seniors and the disabled get to vote

Automated voice assistants help seniors and the disabled get to vote

Seniors and the disabled find it harder to vote as Republicans eliminate voting by mail and ballot drop boxes.

This solution was designed for Center For Common Ground in need of an easy way to arrange for rides to the polls for elderly, rural voters in South Carolina.DemLabs designed the voice based solution with Twilio with an approach similar to how Uber and AirBnB help customers. Seniors and the disabled in rural areas especially need to be able to get voting related help verbally because:

  • Remoteness and a lack of public transport makes it hard for them to register to vote and get to polling locations
  • Lack of cell phone service and smartphones forces them to make voice calls instead of texting
  • Not having a computer or internet access makes it hard for them to find online voting related information
  • Poor eyesight, arthritis and lack of dexterity makes it hard to use computers and phones

Republicans make it harder for the elderly, disabled and rural voters by cutting voting-by-mail and ballot drop boxes. Restricting their ability to vote improves the chances of Republican’s next attempt to gut affordable healthcare.

How can organizers with little money and staff help seniors and the disabled without cell phone coverage or internet access get rides to the polls and answers to voting related questions? Voice Assistants.

Automated voice assistants help seniors and the disabled get to vote.

How do voice assistants work?

Center For Common Grounds use hotlines with automated voice assistants that voters can call for rides to the polls and other voting related help. These voice assistants (voicebots) are similar to Apple SIRI and Amazon ALEXA. Voicebots respond to incoming calls, collect information, provide answers verbally, transcribe the call and save their contact details. The solution is automated, affordable and can handle any number of calls.

Voters are encouraged to call a hotline for voting related help. A voicebot greets and chats with callers. It asks them questions and then gives them answers verbally. The voicebot transcribes the call and saves that along with the caller’s phone number for a volunteer to follow up with them to arrange a ride to the polls. This avoids the need for hiring additional staff to respond to the hotline and dealing with a large volume of calls close to election day. The voicebot can handle any number of calls at the same time and costs about 8 cents per call. Learn more.

How are voice assistants set up?

Voicebots provide organizers an affordable way to help seniors and the disabled get voting related help.

What else can chatbots do?

Deepak
DemLabs

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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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