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Mapping, Accessibility Rating and Traffic Reports.

Web and Mobile Resources and Real-Time Information to Assist Voter Access and Decision Making

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This concept is for website - an interactive, internet based resource that empowers voters to decide where and when to vote.
It is envisaged as a dynamic, real-time component in a broader concept such as
Voter Help Hub or Vote.gov, and hopefully contributing to such outcomes as
Crowdsourced Election Accessibility Best Practices.


1. Website
Create a website (? voteaccess.org) that can potentially provide a map of polling places across the country. Access should be free (preferably advertisement free) but perhaps include registration for those who are interested in providing useful content (particularly but not limited to government and community organisations).

2. Crowd-sourced Content

Utilise as many resources as possible to create meaningful structured content (data and information) related to each polling place.

Partner with state/county election authorities to provide initial basic information, as much of it is already available, just in a variety of not-always compatible formats and not all in one place.
If desired, authorities could utilise the site as the official repository of this basic information and have administrative access to keep their booth information up to date during and between elections.

Partner with Voter Help Hub participants (or similar) as an additional/alternative source of basic information and to provide initial/ongoing accessibility ratings (see below) and report real-time accessibility issues.

Encourage collaboration between partners on:
provision of initial and updated information; and
collection and update  data on voter traffic.

Possibly allow real-time (time stamped) contributions from the public (?moderated/registered) on accessibility issues (e.g. car park at booth X is full)
*There are serious design considerations here as, using the car park example, there is a need to update the information when the car park is accessible again.
Also issues on relevance of contributions. On the other hand some information could provide alerts for quick effective correction.

Content would include the following information.

A       Basic Information (nominal - relatively static).

Location
Geolocation, based on a mapping API, supported by geotagged photos of the buildings, parking areas, approaches and access points - possibly internal directions too.

Facilities
Number and type of voting machines
Wheelchair/scooter access Yes/No
Seating for elderly etc.Yes/No
Special Needs Bookings - Yes/No (based on Mamta Gautam's concept)
Priority Queues - Yes/No (based on Stefan Ritter's concept)

Links (on the website)
Votepools  ( as envisaged by
Public transport time-tables
Road traffic reporting services
other Voter Help Hub type information.

Input from partners here to agree upon most useful information.

B        Dynamic Information

Accessibility Rating

Partner with special needs groups to design a simple but effective basis for assessing and rating.the accessibility of any polling place.
This could perhaps take the form of a check list.

Provide on-site/on day regularly updated assessment through Voter Help Hub partners and/or special needs groups - this would augment or possibly supercede the basic accessibility information listed or implied in the facilities (see above).
(During the inspiration phase there was reference to polling places that were labelled as accessible but that fell short in some respect.)

Publishing this information dynamically on the website provides the voting community with objective real-time information about the accessibility of each polling place.

Traffic Reports

Provide real-time/very regularly updated "traffic reports" consisting of:

Votes cast in last 15 minutes;
Current length of queue; and (hence)
Current maximum waiting times.

The site can do the maths (even using approximate information)  - e.g. 20 votes (total) cast through 4 machines in 15 minutes with a queue of 90 means 1 vote cast every 45 seconds so the 90 voter will reach the head of the queue in 90 x 45 seconds or just over 1 hour. This represents current maximum waiting time but if one machine goes down (another piece of information that can be fed into the site) maximum waiting time (in this example) would be pushed out to an hour and a half.

Dynamically publishing such traffic reports on the site can assist voters in deciding where and when to vote.

The same information can be dynamically published at the booth (if required using real-time feedback from the site).

Additionally the real-time collection of statistics could help authorities deploy resources effectively and historical data (including peaks and troughs) could be used for planning..

3. Site Visitors

Allow site visitors to search for polling places based on current (broad) location eg. street and suburb or possibly just suburb, together with a range say 2 or 5 kilometres.(1 or 2 miles).

Search results would be a map (better than the concept graphic) showing conveniently located booths, their access rating and a voter traffic report.
Single click drill down for added detail on accessibility issues, temporary delays for equipment failure etc.

Provide a mobile/tablet application using subscriber's current GPS location to access the site for end use (as above).- also this could be utilised by booth supervisors to provide traffic reports in/outside the booth.

4. Site Contributors

Provide both mobile and computer input applications for basic and  real-time data from registered volunteers, election officials and community members. In addition where possible utilise analytics of voter throughput from automated systems.like voting machines.

5 Site Feedback

Further analyse the data (both statistical and qualitative) passing through the site to make it available to county/state electoral authorities for future planning. Where problems with accessibility have been fixed clear any comments, update accessibility rating etc.

How will this concept improve election accessibility for everyone?

Voters can make informed choices about where and when to vote based on real-time information..

How well does this concept adapt to the changing needs of different voter communities?

Analysis of information flowing through the site will allow authorities adapt by addressing problems encountered by voters across the spectrum.

What kinds of resources – whether time, money, people, partnerships, technology or otherwise – will be needed to get this concept off the ground?

Considerable resources might be required to design and create the site and associated applications. Although it is desirable to involve election authorities it would be possible to create and maintain the site on a completely voluntary basis (even measuring voter throughput at booths.

My Virtual Team

So many! I will build list over the next day or so as I refine this concept. Daniel Castro, Whitney Quesenbery, Vincent Cheng, Ashley Jablow, Meena Kadri, (all great inspiration feedback and collaboration)

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