Our Voting Challenge is moving full-steam ahead, with inspirations added around the clock to help spark our collective thinking around elections and accessibility. To continue our learning, we recently sat down with Daniel Castro, senior analyst at The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, to hear more about ITIF and the need for innovative design around elections.
For folks who might not know, what is The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation?
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a non-partisan, non-profit think tank that develops and promotes policies supporting technology and innovation in the United States and internationally.
We work on a variety of issues including information technology, energy, life sciences, manufacturing and trade policy. One particular area of interest is helping government better make use of technology to deliver higher-quality services to citizens. As we enter a new era of digital technology, government has to rethink how it manages technology to operate efficiently and effectively. ITIF helps provide guidance and strategic thinking about how to best facilitate digital transformation across local, state and national government.
How can innovation and design help improve accessibility in elections?
For many reasons, innovation has largely been absent from elections and voting technology in the United States. While we have seen some progress since the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002, change has been incremental and slow. Most election officials and vendors do not have the resources (or incentives) to invest in R&D to create better elections. We’d like to use this challenge to inject a healthy dose of innovation and new ideas into the election environment so that we can make elections more accessible. Our goal is to design solutions through an open and inclusive process so that the ideas that emerge can be implemented anywhere.
What excites you most about this OpenIDEO challenge?
We are thrilled to have the opportunity to interact with all of the creative minds who participate in the OpenIDEO community. This is a great opportunity for us to learn about experiences and ideas from so many different people. We are hopeful that this challenge helps us develop a deeper understanding of the barriers that exist for people in different types of situations and design solutions that respect the diverse lives we all live. OpenIDEO is a unique platform for allowing individuals to collaborate together online and we are excited to discover what ideas come out of this process. We are also hopeful that ideas that come out of this challenge can be applied to other contexts. For example, if we can make a voting system more accessible, then we might be able to apply these lessons to a self-service kiosk at a bank or train station.
What's one thing each of us can do right now to support accessible voting in our local communities?
In most places, elections are local. While this sometimes makes it more difficult to enact broad change, this means that voters can influence how elections are run in their own communities. For example, you can volunteer to be a poll worker in the next election and help ensure that everyone there is aware of the different needs in your community and has a strategy to address those needs. Innovation isn’t just about new technology; it’s also about creating new and better services. That might mean creating better signage at the poll place, ensuring the poll site is accessible and free of obstacles, or creating a quiet space to vote.
And of course, you can share your ideas on OpenIDEO!
Cheers, Daniel, for your insights on our challenge! Feeling inspired to join our efforts? Head over to Inspiration and get started.