Every Vote Counts, So Does EveryElection
by Jes Klass, NewFounders, @newfoundersHQ
We’re entering a battlefield this year, there’s really no other way to put it. We’ve seen victories recently in Alabama with Doug Jones’ Senate victory and the #BlueWave in Virginia, but it doesn’t stop there. Now is not the time to get complacent. We need to send a message this year and make a real statement to 45’s administration. This year, we all need to get out and vote.
The 2016 presidential election yielded an estimated 58% voter turnout. While this is more than half of the country, by most conventional grading standards it’s still an F. It means that over 40% of Americans had no input into our leadership, no input to our democracy. There are a few reasons for this, so let’s hang on before placing any blame. Some of the biggest contributing factors were factors not immediately in our control. Fourteen states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election. This greatly complicated voting in some states and even contributed to voter suppression. This is a problem. A huge one. But the only way we can fix legislation is by becoming active and voting.
This is where we can make a huge difference. The only way to end voter suppression is by first ending voter complacency.
Be honest for a second, do you know someone who didn’t vote in the most recent election?
This is what inspired us to create EveryElection, an app that makes voting easier than ever before. EveryElection takes the who (is running?), what (seats are being voted on?), when(is the vote happening?) and where (is my polling place?) out of the equation. (You know the “why,” so we didn’t have to include that part.)
EveryElection is free and allows you to:
- Input your address to find your polling place
- Read information about what seats are being voted on, including who the incumbent and challenger are
- Receive early and absentee voter information
- Sync your contacts to find out which of your friends can vote in upcoming elections
- Call/text those friends with one push of a button to remind them
We’re trying to make voting as easy and stress-free as possible. We’re also trying to push advocates to push their friends.
There’s nothing wrong with a little peer pressure between friends. In a 2008 study in American Political Science Review was performed to measure the impact of social pressure on voter turnout. This study departs from prior work on this subject by conducting an experiment designed to prime voters to think about civic duty while at the same time applying different amounts of social pressure in order to induce them to adhere to this norm.
So, does peer pressure work?
The control group in the study received no pressure, messaging, or interference from the researchers and voted at a rate of 29.7%.
The group that was sent a reminder in the mail that “voting is a civic duty” voted at a rate of 31.5%, a 1.8 percentage-point increase.
The next group was told they were being studied, and they voted at a rate of 32.2%, a 2.5 percentage-point increase over the control group.
The next group was told that they would be sent their household voting records after voting had happened, so all members of the household would be aware whether the other members of the household voted or not. This group voted at a rate of 34.5%, an astounding 4.9 percentage-point increase to the control group.
Finally, the last group was told they would be sent the voting records of their household and their neighbors after voting had concluded. This group voted at a rate of 37.8%, an 8.1 percentage-point increase over the control group.
You read that right. When voters were told that their family and neighbors would know if they voted or not: they voted 8.1 percent-points higher than the group that was told nothing. To put that into perspective, 8.1 percentage-point result is larger than any mail effect gauged by a randomized experiment, it also exceeds the effect of live phone calls (Arceneaux, Gerber, and Green 2006; Nickerson 2006b) and the effect of face-to-face canvassing (Arceneaux 2005; Gerber and Green 2000; Gerber, Green, and Green 2003).
So, to put it bluntly: yes, a little peer pressure is okay when the fate of the nation depends on it.
Peer pressure works, EveryElection is free, and there’s nothing to lose. We’re planning to release the app for web/Android and add new features that will allow you to organize call parties, receive push notifications about elections, and rally voter advocacy about various issues. Don’t forget about local elections, every vote matters and so does EveryElection.
This is one small step, but it’s a smell step towards a more transparent and open democracy.
Arceneaux, Kevin. 2005. “Using Cluster Randomized Field Experiments to Study Voting Behavior.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 601 (September): 169–79.
Arceneaux, Kevin, Alan S. Gerber, and Donald P. Green. 2006. “Comparing Experimental and Matching Methods using a LargeScale Voter Mobilization Experiment.” Political Analysis 14 (Winter): 37–62.
Gerber, Alan S., et al. “Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment.” American Political Science Review, vol. 102, no. 01, 2008, pp. 33–48., doi:10.1017/s000305540808009x.