JOB: Senior Developer, Democracy Works

Location: Preferably Brooklyn, NY; Denver, CO; or remote for the right candidate
Target Start Date: April 3, 2017

Salary Range: $85,000 to $128,000 (depending on location and skill level)
Benefits: Vision, dental, and medical insurance; 403(b) retirement savings plan; generous vacation policy
Level: Mid to Senior

At Democracy Works, we believe voting should fit the way we live. To that end, we build technology for both voters and election administrators that simplifies the process and ensures that no voter should ever have to miss an election.

TurboVote, our first service, helps voters register, stay registered, and cast a ballot in every election, from municipal to national. TurboVote signed up its millionth voter in 2016 by building the largest college and corporate coalition in the country, including 194 campuses, companies like Starbucks, Univision, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, and dozens more.  We also helped (basically) everyone find their polling place through the Voting Information Project. Its data had 123 million impressions in 2016, and over 11 million voters looked up where to vote on GetToThePolls.com. To scale our impact and reach every voter, we’re establishing an Election Technology Cooperative to provide affordable, voter-centered technology to election administrators. And Ballot Scout helps election administrators track absentee ballots through the mail, providing transparency in the vote-by-mail process and making it easier to follow up when things go awry.

These products are the work of our 8-person developer team. Most of our development involves writing microservices in Clojure running in Docker containers and communicating over RabbitMQ, web clients in ClojureScript, and data stored in Datomic. We also have projects that use JavaScript, Node, jQuery, React, Ruby, Rails, Python, Golang, and PostgreSQL. We hope you have experience with some of these technologies and are excited to get experience with the rest.

As a software engineer, you’ll:

  • Pair program
  • Collaborate with product managers
  • Make sure your work delivers value to users
  • Rotate roles and projects on our team so that you get a variety of experience and working relationships, making sure you can bring your unique strengths to as wide a swath of our work as possible

You are:

  • An experienced software developer (preferably with some Clojure experience) who is excited to dive into these projects
  • Passionate about our mission and strategy
  • Collaborative, both within the dev team and across the organization
  • Organized and detail-oriented
  • Rigorous
  • Enthusiastic about mentoring and learning from others of various experience levels

To apply, send a resume and brief introduction to Wes and Quinn at work@democracy.works with the subject “Will code for democracy.”

Democracy Works is committed to diversity and inclusion in everything we do and aspires to have a team which is representative of the voters we serve. When hiring, we practice proactive outreach to top talent that’s underrepresented in our sector (including Latinx, Black, AAPI, and Indigenous candidates), and we offer every candidate an anonymized skills evaluation, to reduce implicit bias and resume-dependency in our process. We're a woman- and gay-founded startup, and promote an inclusive culture that stands against racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism (to name a few). To be explicit, we strongly encourage applicants of all races, ethnicities, political party associations, religions (or lack thereof), national origins, sexual orientations, genders, sexes, ages, abilities, and branches of military service. Feel free to contact work@democracy.works if you have any questions about our commitment to inclusion or about general hiring practices.

JOB: Development Director, Democracy Works

*Updated February 21, 2017*

Location: Brooklyn, NY
Application Deadline: April 11, 2017
Salary Range: Salary commensurate with experience
Benefits: Vision, dental, & medical insurance; 403(b) retirement savings plan; generous vacation policy; long-term disability; employee assistance program
Position Level: Senior

Categories:  Major gifts, corporate and foundation relations, prospect research, sales and marketing, special events
 
Position Overview:  Democracy Works seeks a strong, high-energy, organized senior development officer with a creative, entrepreneurial spirit to attract, cultivate and manage support for this dynamic, fast-paced organization.
 
The ideal candidate will be a self-starter with excellent interpersonal, written and verbal communication skills. They will be dedicated, well organized, detail-oriented, and excited about working in a rapidly growing non-profit with a friendly but fast-paced environment.

Organizational Overview: Democracy Works’s mission is to increase participation across all elections by building technology for voters and election administrators. Your work is critical to achieving our  moonshot goal: 80% turnout. Over the past 2 years we have laid the groundwork to reach this goal, helping voters connect to a more modernized election system through the institutions they interact with in their daily lives.

TurboVote, our first service, helps voters register, stay registered, and cast a ballot in every election, from municipal to national. TurboVote signed up its millionth voter in 2016 by building the largest college and corporate coalition in the country, including 194 campuses, companies like Starbucks, Univision, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, and dozens more.  We also helped (basically) everyone find their polling place through the Voting Information Project. Its data had 123 million impressions in 2016, and over 11 million voters looked up where to vote on GetToThePolls.com. To scale our impact and reach every voter, we’re establishing an Election Technology Cooperative to provide affordable, voter-centered technology to election administrators. And Ballot Scout helps election administrators track absentee ballots through the mail, providing transparency in the vote-by-mail process and making it easier to follow up when things go awry.

It’s an exciting time to join our team. In February, a major foundation is announcing a $2.5 million matching grant to help kick-start our $10 million fundraising round. You will work hand-in-hand with our executive director, board, and existing donors to raise that round over the next 1-2 years, transform Democracy Works into a critical civic institution, and have a historic impact on our democracy.
 
Major responsibilities include working with the Executive Director and relevant program staff to accomplish the following:

  • Develop innovative and timely fundraising strategies, marketing materials and proposals
  • Cultivate, manage and support Democracy Works Executive Director and Program Staff’s relationships with key foundation, corporate, and individual donors/prospects 
  • Research, write, and cultivate support for grant proposals that seek general and program-specific funding 
  • Produce acknowledgements and reports for donations received from individuals and institutions
  • Coordinate and edit proposals and reports generated by other team members
  • Create and design fundraising decks
  • Represent Democracy Works in meetings with important stakeholders and at fundraising and other outreach events 
  • Respond to donor and prospect requests for information 
  • Supervise creation and maintenance of funders’ records and mailing lists in database and hard-copy files 
  • Process gifts, track contributions and prepare financial reports as needed
  • Other duties as assigned

Primary qualifications include:

  • 5-7 years of nonprofit development experience strongly preferred. Varied experiences adding up to the equivalent will be considered (e.g. raising money as a nonprofit executive).
  • Successful track record in short and long-term strategic planning and implementation, including recruitment and maintenance of past, present and potential donors
  • Experience in every aspect of foundation, corporate, and individual fundraising
  • Exceptional time management, project management, and organizational skills
  • Excellent writing, editing and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to work independently, as part of a team, and across teams
  • Ability to respond flexibly and graciously to unanticipated requests and assignments
  • Confidence in representing the organization in a wide range of public forums
  • Ability to build successful partnerships and negotiate effective agreements
  • Experience with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and strong database management skills

Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. We’re based in Brooklyn, NY and Denver, CO. We hope you’ll want to work from our Brooklyn office, though we’ll consider remote arrangements for the perfect candidate.

To apply:

Candidates should send a short email with resume, addressed to Seth, at work@democracy.works with the subject line “Will fundraise for democracy” to begin the application process. Qualified candidates who meet the above requirements will have the opportunity to complete an anonymized skills evaluation (see below for why we do this) before we schedule an interview. Based on the application, evaluation results, interviews, and reference checks, one person will be selected for the position.

Applications will be accepted and interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis.

Democracy Works is committed to diversity and inclusion in everything we do and aspires to have a team which is representative of the voters we serve. When hiring, we practice proactive outreach to top talent that’s underrepresented in our sector (including Latinx, Black, AAPI, and Indigenous candidates), and we offer every candidate an anonymized skills evaluation, to reduce implicit bias and resume-dependency in our process. We're a woman- and gay-founded startup, and promote an inclusive culture that stands against racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism (to name a few). To be explicit, we strongly encourage applicants of all races, ethnicities, political party associations, religions (or lack thereof), national origins, sexual orientations, genders, sexes, ages, abilities, and branches of military service. Feel free to contact work@democracy.works if you have any questions about our commitment to inclusion or about general hiring practices.
 

JOB: Partnerships Associate, TurboVote

Location: Preferably Brooklyn, NY
Target Start Date: April 3, 2017

Salary Range: $38,000 to $48,000 per year (depending on location)
Benefits: Vision, dental, and medical insurance; 403(b) retirement savings plan; generous vacation policy
Level: Entry 

At Democracy Works, we believe voting should fit the way we live. To that end, we build technology for both voters and election administrators that simplifies the process and ensures that no voter should ever have to miss an election.

TurboVote, our first service, tracks an individual voter’s elections. We provide all the materials and information they need to get registered to vote, stay registered, and cast a ballot in every election, from municipal to national. 

The TurboVote partnerships team recruits institutions of higher education, organizations, and companies to promote voter engagement to their students, communities, employees, and customers. The partnerships team also provides support to these partners as they use TurboVote. We work with hundreds of colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations, and companies to provide TurboVote to their constituents. Ensuring the strength of those relationships requires an attentive and dedicated staff.

In 2017, our goals in higher education are: 1) to invest in our existing partners (e.g., colleges, universities, and higher ed consortiums) by helping them build more comprehensive programs for voter engagement and; 2) to bring on new partners in a way that sets them up for substantial success using TurboVote. In order to accomplish these goals, we’re looking for a multitalented organizer, customer-service whisperer, and all-around people person to join our team. 

As a Partnerships Associate for TurboVote, you will strengthen relationships with each of our partners, with a focus on higher education partners, and work closely with them to ensure they are using our technology strategically. You’ll become an expert in the world of higher education and cultivate a passion for promoting civic engagement. Also, as the primary contact for some of our partners, you will help train them on new features and continually gather feedback on how we can improve the platform. Finally, you may be responsible for renewing the TurboVote annual contract with the higher education partners you regularly work with and recruiting new partners to join our program. 

You will:

  • Execute an outreach plan to keep our partners engaged throughout the year and ensure that they’re prepared for elections as they approach.
  • Build relationships with current and potential partners across the country, supporting their campus programs (you’ll spend a lot of time on the phone).
  • Encourage partners to implement specific strategies and tactics that the TurboVote team has learned will drive higher TurboVote use and, ultimately, ballots cast. 
  • Maintain partner records so every partner gets the customized treatment they need.
  • Collect feedback from partner organizations and use it to propose new training materials, best practices, and improvements to the TurboVote technology.
  • Set ambitious annual voter engagement plans with our partners and follow up to provide the resources necessary to make them happen.
  • Attend conferences around the country in order to bolster current partner relationships and recruit new partners

You are:

  • A fantastic listener with an ability to read between the lines
  • Enthusiastic about making cold calls and building new relationships
  • Exceptionally organized
  • Able to multitask and prioritize time effectively 
  • A leader who knows how to motivate others and inspire them to succeed
  • Comfortable navigating bureaucracy and a foe of red tape
  • Excited to learn sales strategies and have the confidence to close deals with prospective college partners. 

You have:

  • Proficiency in Excel
  • Excellent customer/constituent service skills honed working with a diverse audience
  • Worked for campaigns or grassroots organizations doing direct contact outreach
  • Written in a wide variety of media, for example from email newsletters to how-to guides
  • Preferred, but not required...have worked with CRM tools (we use Insightly) or databases 

We’re based in Brooklyn, NY and Denver, CO, but we hope you’ll want to work from our Brooklyn office. Also, we imagine that the ideal candidate will be entry-level. That said, we’ll consider remote arrangements and/or a mid-level entry point for the perfect candidate.

To apply please closely follow these instructions:

1. Submit the following information for consideration to Mike at work@democracy.works with the subject “Will support democracy.”

a. A brief, informal email that includes why you’re interested in this position and how Democracy Works will better accomplish its vision (make voting a simple, seamless experience for all Americans so that no one misses an election) with you on staff. 

b. A resume of relevant experience to the responsibilities and qualifications listed above.

Applicants who send an email that adheres to the instructions above will have the opportunity to complete a practical exercise. Applicants who submit a well-executed practical exercise will be asked to participate in an interview. Based on the applications, practical exercises, interviews, and reference checks, one applicant will be offered the position.

Applications will be accepted and interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis.

Democracy Works is committed to diversity and inclusion in everything we do and aspires to have a team that's representative of the voters we serve. When hiring, we practice proactive outreach to top talent that’s underrepresented in our sector (including Latinx, Black, AAPI, and Indigenous candidates), and we offer every candidate an anonymized skills evaluation, to reduce implicit bias and resume-dependency in our process. We're a woman- and gay-founded startup, and promote an inclusive culture that stands against racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism (to name a few). To be explicit, we strongly encourage applicants of all races, ethnicities, political party associations, religions (or lack thereof), national origins, sexual orientations, genders, sexes, ages, abilities, and branches of military service. Feel free to contact work@democracy.works if you have any questions about our commitment to inclusion or about general hiring practices.
 

INTERNSHIP: TurboVote Summer Associate

Democracy Works is an authority in civic technology. We believe voting should fit the way we live. To that end, we build technology for both voters and election administrators that simplifies the process and ensures that no voter should ever have to miss an election.

TurboVote, our first service, tracks an individual voter’s elections. We provide all the materials and information they need to get registered, stay registered, and cast a ballot in every election, from municipal to national—and we’ll even mail forms with an addressed, stamped envelope for the local election office. Our second tool, Ballot Scout, helps local election administrators track absentee ballots as they travel through the mail, providing transparency in the vote-by-mail process and making it easier to follow up when things go awry. We also work with the Pew Charitable Trusts and Google to ensure that the Voting Information Project’s data is up-to-date and ready from one election to the next.

The Democracy Works partnerships team recruits schools, organizations, and local governments to promote voter engagement through the strategic use of our technology. Over 170 colleges and universities, more than 30 nonprofit organizations, and a dozen corporations currently use TurboVote.

In 2017, our goals are (1) to invest in our existing partners and find creative ways to help them build more comprehensive programs for voter engagement and (2) to reach new potential partners, all with a particular focus on increasing voter turnout in local and midterm elections. 

As this is a startup, you’ll get to wear a lot of hats. You should be:

  • unafraid of “no”
  • at home in an agile, fast-paced collaborative environment
  • comfortable with oral and written communications in a variety of settings, including phone presence and presentation skills
  • organized, able to prioritize time effectively and multi-task
  • a relationship-builder and all-around “people person”

Experience in political organizing, leading an organization, editing and designing, or business development is a plus, but is not a requirement.

Your job will include:

  • generating and pursuing new leads,
  • collecting and maintaining data on our partners so every contact gets the customized outreach they need,
  • building relationships with current and potential partners across the country and supporting their campus programs (you’ll spend a lot of time on the phone), and
  • using your student perspective to create content for partners that will enhance their TurboVote experience and provide ideas to increase student engagement with the tool.

This paid internship is located in Brooklyn and runs from early June to mid-August, 2017. Candidates should email a resume and cover letter, addressed to Emily, to intern@turbovote.org with the subject line “Will intern for democracy” to begin the application process. In your email, be sure to reference that you’re applying for the TurboVote Summer Associate listing. 

We are inspired by the idea of building an awesome and truly diverse team, so we strongly encourage applicants of all races, colors, political party associations, religions (or lack thereof), national origins, sexual orientations, genders, sexes, ages, abilities, and branches of military service.

 

 

Where Should the Voting Information Project Go From Here?

Democracy Works, Inc. is a participant in the working group that will help form the future of the Voting Information Project (VIP) and we are also a deeply invested stakeholder in the program itself. We want to be certain the thoughts of our community are heard and passed along, so please take the time to review this request for comment and send your feedback. 

Originally posted here

As you may have heard, The Pew Charitable Trusts has initiated a planning process to determine the future of the Voting Information Project (VIP). And as part of that process, we are seeking input from the field on what stakeholders think should be the next phase of VIP.

To that end, we invite you to submit your views—ideally no more than 500 words—on the following topics:

  1. What should VIP continue to do? What should it change?
  2. What can VIP teach about—and learn from—its efforts?
  3. Are there other opportunities for VIP (or a project like it)?
  4. What changes to VIP would make election officials more or less likely to participate?
  5. What communities are currently being missed by projects like VIP, and how can we address those shortcomings?
  6. Who else is doing work in this space, and how might VIP contribute to those efforts—and vice versa?
  7. What other questions should we be asking?
  8. The deadline for feedback is Monday, Jan. 30; please send your submissions to future@votinginfoproject.org

We plan to make the submissions available to the community; please let us know if you’d prefer not to be featured publicly.

We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your contributions.

Voting Information Project Working Group (Note: Affiliations are for identification purposes only.)

Alexis Schuler/Monica Leibovitz, The Pew Charitable Trusts
Anthea Watson Strong/Chetan Sabnis, Google
Samidh Chakrabati, Facebook
Marc Burris, North Carolina State Board of Elections
Paul Stenbjorn, Virginia Department of Elections
Brian Corley, Pasco County, Florida, Supervisor of Elections
Kathryn Peters, Democracy Works
Tiana Epps-Johnson, Center for Technology and Civic Life
Charles Stewart, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Clarence Wardell, United States Digital Service

Wrap-Up: Parade to the Polls with Chance the Rapper

By Jill Brownfield, TurboVote Partner Support Lead, and Andrew Snyder, TurboVote Campus Outreach Lead

If you’re a fan of Chance the Rapper, you may have seen in the news that Chance and his newly organized nonprofit organization SocialWorks played host to a free concert at Grant Park in downtown Chicago followed by a Parade to the Polls on election eve night. The evening's performances concluded with Chance the Rapper playing hits from his latest album Coloring Book, delivering a positive and nonpartisan message to the crowd about the importance of voting. He then led a march of thousands of young voters to an early voting site, where attendees amplified their voices in the voting booth.

Organized by SocialWorks, Prime Fortune, and Virgin Hotels Chicago, with help from Democracy Works, Boost Mobile, Chicago Votes, and Black Youth Project 100, the event was an inspirational and positive call to young voters to participate in the democratic process. Young artists including OddCouple, Eryn Allen Kane, Twin Peaks, Taylor Bennett, and Malcolm London also performed and spoke from the stage to the crowd about the importance of voting. With an estimated 6,000 attendees, the free concert and march were a history-making event created for and by young voters.

Chance called attendees to follow him from the stage to the voting booth. “At the end of this show, we’re going to have a very cool, very peaceful, but very lit parade, march, exhibition of democracy: exactly what it looks like. Show what it looks like through the streets, what it looks like to get up and make a decision, and be a part of customizing and creating what your society looks like.” Chance’s arrival flanked by thousands of fans at the early voting site caused quite a spectacle, with lines to vote snaking around several city blocks. Ultimately, the event contributed to the most successful day of early voting in Cook County history, with more than 700 early votes being cast by event attendees that evening.

At Democracy Works, we began working with Chance and SocialWorks a few months ago when we discovered they’d been promoting our TurboVote tool as a voter registration resource at concerts on the Magnificent Coloring Day tour. With common goals of working to help young people participate in the political process through our higher education partnerships, and SocialWorks’s mission to civically engage Chicago’s youth, formalizing our partnership was a logical next step.

As the Parade to the Polls came together, SocialWorks pulled their community networks and contacts into the planning process, including organizations like Virgin Hotels Chicago, Prime Fortune, Chicago Votes, and BYP 100. These local organizations tapped crucial armies of volunteers, bringing people power to help with event security, crowd control, and marshalling the march to the polls. We also brought our contacts at Boost Mobile and their Boost Your Voice campaign to join in the fun. They brought the infrastructure to live stream the whole event online, which led to an additional 500,000 online event viewers. Together, we all worked through some unexpected obstacles like a competing large parade (congratulations, Cubs!) and a last minute venue change to pull off a historic event. In the midst of such an overwhelmingly divisive campaign season, it was our distinct pleasure to work with these organizations to pull off this display of direct action and democracy.

Monday night’s celebration was the culmination of months of work by Chance and SocialWorks to register thousands of voters. In doing so, Chance became a generational icon using a megaphone to encourage young voters in the face of media narratives about low turnout, apathy, and ignorance. Chance’s team worked with the NAACP and their #StayWokeAndVote campaign to register voters in person at recent tour stops while utilizing TurboVote to digitally call voters to action. While Millennials have often been criticized for “slacktivism,” Chance used his large social media following to tweet out TurboVote for voter registration and orchestrated the Parade to the Polls to connect fans directly to the act of voting in an overwhelmingly positive and nonpartisan way. 

We at Democracy Works played but a small role in putting this extraordinary event together as part of a wider Party at the Polls campaign, which is hosted by The TurboVote Challenge. But the reach of this movement was national. Each event across the country invited the entire host community, was nonpartisan, and free-of-cost to those attending. They occurred near polling locations during election or early voting hours. In an election cycle dominated by divisiveness, we wanted to add volume to the voices of our partners to help Americans celebrate what makes our country strong: democracy.

And celebrate in Chicago we did! Thanks to all of the individuals and organizations that made this event happen, and we look forward to future Parades to the Polls!

GUEST BLOG: 2016 TurboVote Associate Summer in Review

By Camille Traslavina

My name is Camille Traslavina, and I’m a junior at Harvard College. This summer, along with five other students from universities across the country, I had the privilege of working as a summer associate at Democracy Works. The associates joined the TurboVote Partnerships Team in Brooklyn, New York, and took on a number of projects, often aimed at building new relationships with higher education institutions interested in helping their students become more civically engaged, and assisting existing partner universities in effectively implementing TurboVote.

We worked on projects which included researching the civic engagement climates on college campuses, supporting students and faculty in their voter engagement efforts, hosting informational webinars for current and potential partners, developing materials that offer effective strategies for getting students registered, and helping Democracy Works prepare to best serve partner campuses as they intensify voter registration efforts leading up to the November presidential election.

In addition to coordinating with colleges and universities, we had the opportunity to be involved with the TurboVote Challenge, working with companies and organizations committed to reaching 80 percent voter turnout in the U.S. As a part of this effort, we attended the TurboVote Challenge Summit, a two-day meeting during which all participating organizations shared their visions for our democracy and developed plans for increasing voter registration and turnout in the coming years.

We associates also represented Democracy Works at the World Youth Report on Youth Civic Engagement at the United Nations Headquarters. While our time was focused primarily on TurboVote, we also became familiar with, and contributed to, Democracy Works’s other projects, including Ballot Scout and the Voting Information Project.

As college students, I think associates are able to bring an important student perspective to Democracy Works, and I know that for many of us, this summer served as our first experience in a nonprofit organization, startup environment. We formed friendships with each other and the office staff that will remain meaningful for years to come. I hope we’ll continue to reflect on our experiences at Democracy Works and explore ways to use what we’ve learned throughout our school years and beyond. We have all now returned to our respective colleges and universities, and started laying groundwork to get our peers to the polls this November, but the memories shared during the summer we spent in Brooklyn preparing for one of our country’s most influential elections will not soon fade.

 

PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: University of Chicago

By Shree Shah, Democracy Works Summer Associate, TurboVote

This past 2015-2016 academic year, the University of Chicago put forth tremendous effort to increase voter engagement and registration on campus. With the help of the Institute of Politics (IOP) and the IOP’s Adam Reynolds, UChicago was able to sign up a record number of its students for TurboVote. On the smaller side of a medium-sized campus, they knew that on-the-ground bottlenecks would work best for their campus. As a result, they planned multiple tabling events and challenges in high traffic areas. UChicago’s success is a testament to what a strong civic engagement strategy can do with the help of TurboVote.

Each fall, most colleges go through a freshman orientation program, and UChicago capitalized on this process by registering a greater number students than any other time of the year. Unsuspecting first year students filed into the Reynolds Club to return academic forms. After they finished this process, they were funneled into another line in another room. At the end of the line, they had waiting for them, a gift bag and computers. Each student received their Class of 2018 gift bag, and was then guided over to the computers that had the UChicago TurboVote co-branded site on the monitors. One by one, with the help of Adam and other IOP volunteers, the incoming class signed up for TurboVote. As UChicago’s numbers demonstrate, catching students during a mandatory orientation event can be extremely valuable.In that one event, UChicago signed up 459 students, nearly one third of the incoming class! 

At UChicago, students are separated into different figurative houses, which are located in one of the dorms. Students are extremely loyal to their given houses, which are the source of age-old rivalries. As a result, one of the most successful events this past year was the inter-house challenge. In the winter, each house was given a unique referral code and the house with the most TurboVote sign-ups won a pizza party. Through this effort, the IOP was able to register an additional 200 students!

As any administrator knows, students are constantly online in some capacity. So, UChicago implemented a few digital strategies on campus. Periodically, emails were sent out to the student body encouraging them to get registered to vote and then to actually vote. The university’s social media accounts were also utilized, as they have a large follower base. Lastly, the IOP placed a call to action on their website that linked to the UChicago TurboVote co-branded site.

Having primaries throughout the course of the year definitely helped increase the number of students that wanted to get registered to vote. And, after a full year’s effort, UChicago was able to sign-up about 1,000 students (up from 630 registrants in the previous year)!

Let’s Put Pokémon In Polling Places

By Seth Flaxman, co-founder and executive director of Democracy Works

On a warm Friday night in July, hundreds of people tore through Central Park on the hunt for Vaporeon—a very rare Pokémon Go creature. But what if Pokémon Go players had to hunt Vaporeon--or, for that matter, Squirtle, Arcanine or Zapdos--in polling places come November 8th?

Savvy political organizers are already capitalizing on the most-downloaded app of all time, which works by having players go to “PokéStops” (real world public places) to pick up “Pokéballs” and other virtual objects, then find a “Gym” to battle their Pokémon against other players. On July 12, the Ohio organizing director for the Clinton campaign was showing up at both Stops and Gyms to register players to vote. The campaign then took the next logical step and started dropping “Lures” at an event in Lakewood, Ohio in Madison Park on July 16.  Lures are a feature of the game, where players can spend $1.19 an hour to attract Pokémon to a specific PokéStop or Gym. The tactic soon became bipartisan with the Campaign Communications Director for Senator Rand Paul’s election luring players to a PokéStop in Louisville, KY where they could register to vote and learn more about the Republican former candidate for president.

Small businesses, multinational companies, advocacy groups and local governments have all caught onto the strategy too. New York pizzeria L'inizio Pizza Bar saw sales spike 75 percent last weekend after its manager, Sean Benedetti, spent $10 setting lures at a nearby PokéStop. On July 20th, McDonald’s Japanese arm announced an exclusive deal with Niantic, the San Francisco based developers of Pokémon Go, to turn all 3,000 Japanese locations into Gyms. On July 13th, NextGen Climate in Nevada, an anti-climate change group, dropped lures for their registration drive in Paradise Park, Las Vegas. The elections office for the city of Denver, CO did the same, dropping a lure near their office to register voters.  Without a doubt, the virtual world is now moving millions of people to take actions in the physical one.

The potential to get voters to the polls is there, but those seeking to use Pokémon Go to increase turnout might crash right into election law. Brian Corley, the Supervisor of Elections for Pasco County, Florida, warned this week that players not registered to vote “could be arrested” if they went hunting for Pokémon at an early voting site or polling place. Many polling places are located at Recreation Centers or other public buildings that feature PokeStop or Gyms, and according to Florida election law, only registered voters and poll workers are legally permitted inside.

Florida, like many states, also has a 100-foot buffer around the entrances to voting locations where electioneering isn’t allowed. The former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, Michael Toner, recently argued that campaigns should be legally allowed to buy lures inside the non-solicitation buffer. Toner says that anything inside Pokémon Go isn’t actually in a public space because it exists in a virtual universe only viewable through a mobile app a voter chose to download. Regardless, there’s no certainty when it comes to applying election laws to augmented reality, most were written before the internet was even invented.

The best course of action would be for Niantic to avoid these issues entirely by baking voter participation directly into the platform. Compared to the technology behind augmented reality, Niantic could easily help players verify their registration status or register them to vote, and then “naturally” release rare Pokémon at polling places that only registered voters could see.

There’s a strong precedent for corporations embracing just such a civic duty. In 2008, Starbucks gave away free cups of coffee to people who said they voted. This past March the company launched an effort to help all 150,000 of their US employees register to vote and joined the TurboVote Challenge, a coalition that includes Spotify, Lyft, Airbnb, and the Video Game Voters Network. It’s a moonshot goal to reach 80% voter turnout within a decade, asking companies to leverage their brands and businesses to help users and customers become active citizens.

This isn’t just a good marketing strategy. Voter turnout in the United States is in crisis. The United States currently ranks 138th among countries across the world in voter turnout over the last 50 years, as measured by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Only around half of us are voting in presidential elections, around 40 percent in midterms, and between 20 and 5 percent in most local and primary elections. With less than half of the U.S. population regularly deciding on their choice of representation, we are missing the voices of too many people for our government to be truly representative. In order to have a nation that represents the people, the people must turn up to vote.

Getting people active, however, could be as simple as tying participation to something joyful, like catching a Snorlax. In fact, the founder of Citizen University, Eric Liu, recently wrote that make voting a joyful social activity would be a return to our roots. Traditionally speaking, voting in the US was about parades, festivals, bonfires and raucous street theater. A walk to a PokéStop should allow players to hatch Pokémon Eggs and a love for voting at the same time.

Throughout U.S. history, presidential campaigns have been at the cutting edge of augmented reality, insisting that voters look at our world through a funhouse mirror of cartoonish monsters. It’s not too late, however, for a different type of augmented reality to be used for good this election cycle. Let’s make voting fun again.

Brexit Is Just the Beginning

By Seth Flaxman, co-founder and executive director of Democracy Works

Nearly two months on, we can start to see the effects of the Brexit vote. No matter where one stood on Britain leaving the EU, the decision was made by those that showed up to the polls. The Britons who didn’t participate woke up to the enormous consequences of their decision to let others speak for them. To name just one demographic, voters 18-24 were 75% in favor of Remain but only 36% participated.

The Brexit should be a wake up call to strengthen democracy. Over the next few decades, every nation will confront enormous decisions. Decisions without precedent, problems without playbooks. Get used to pundits referring to every election as the most important vote of our lifetimes. This is the new normal; a future where hugely consequential elections tackling complex issues will fall like relentless blows. For democracies to survive this future, the voting public must be more informed and more engaged than ever before. Is U.S. democracy, the oldest continually functioning democracy in the world, up for the challenge?

In a word: no. The United States ranks 138th in turnout among democracies worldwide, as measured by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance over the past 50 years. That means only about half of us are participating in presidential elections, around 40 percent in midterms, and often only between 25 percent and 5 percent in local and primary elections. These are crisis levels of turnout. In a democracy, sovereignty must originate with the people, and elections are the ultimate source of legitimacy. Continuing into this new era with such low engagement puts the legitimacy of our democracy at stake.

Democracies also work better when the vast majority of citizens are pulling the lever. Some of the biggest problems in our democracy are enabled by low turnout. Corrupt party bosses, major donors, special interests, all of them can more easily manipulate the outcome of an election when turnout is low. It should come as no surprise that politicians refuse to compromise for the common good when only a small fraction of the most ideological voters participate in the primary elections that put them in power.

Yet, it’s still not too late. Our society can take big leaps toward mass engagement even without the help of politicians. This past March, Starbucks and a dozen other companies launched the TurboVote Challenge, a moonshot goal to reach 80 percent voter turnout, using their brands and businesses to engage customers and employees in voting. This is the first phase of the moonshot, and it’s, in part, meant to redefine voter engagement as a responsibility of every sector, not just government. As Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said of his company’s efforts, “It does not matter if you are a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent. Our intention is nonpartisan, and it is simple: by helping to increase voter registration and participation, we believe more people will have an opportunity to make their voices count.” 100 percent of Americans are served by at least one major corporation, so if companies helped educate citizens about voting, we could reach all 219 million Americans eligible to vote.

Then, this June, Harvard set the bar, becoming a national model for campus voter engagement overnight. Each semester, all Harvard undergraduate students must complete a mandatory “check-in” process prior to arriving on campus. Beginning in the fall of 2016, that process will include giving students the opportunity to register to vote in any state, request absentee ballots, or receive text and email updates reminding them of upcoming elections. There are over 1,500 institutions of higher education in our country. All of them can be centers of civic education in addition to places of learning. All should inspire students to become informed voters.

What would it look like if every American institution, private and public, took on the same responsibility? It would change our democracy forever, awakening a spirit of participation and citizenship nationwide. Mass engagement is possible, but it will literally take all of us. No less than the future of our democracy depends on it.

JOB: Product Manager

NOTE: As of August 25, we are no longer accepting applications for this position.

At Democracy Works, we believe voting should fit the way we live. To that end, we build technology for both voters and election administrators that simplifies the process and ensures that no voter should ever have to miss an election.

TurboVote, our first service, provides election reminders to more than 400,000 voters. We provide all the materials and information they need to get registered, stay registered, and cast a ballot in every election, from municipal to national—and we’ll even mail forms with an addressed, stamped envelope for the local election office. (And in projects this role won't be responsible for, we offer Ballot Scout, which helps local election administrators track absentee ballots by the tens of thousands as they travel through the mail, providing transparency in the vote-by-mail process and making it easier to follow up when things go awry. We also work with the Pew Charitable Trusts and Google to ensure that the Voting Information Project’s data is up-to-date and ready from one election to the next, for the millions and millions of voters who rely on it.)

You’ll be joining us at an exciting time: after 18 months rebuilding the TurboVote application from the bottom up, we relaunched turbovote.org in March 2016, and are in the process of migrating all 200+ partner organizations to TurboVote 2.0 for this November’s election. You’ll be taking over a product with solid core features and a microservices architecture – and guiding the way as we build out our dreams on that foundation. Our grand plans include conducting ALL the split-testing and experimentation, giving our partners the best imaginable tools for outreach, reporting, and iterative learning, and refining (or wholly reimagining) the user experience to increase turnout.

As Product Manager for TurboVote, you will:

  • define and prioritize strategic goals for the product as a member of the Democracy Works leadership team
  • develop a roadmap to take TurboVote 2.0 from MVP to THE platform for civic engagement
  • conduct user tests and user research to identify new features and updates with TurboVote partners, and use their feedback to make prioritization decisions
  • pair with a developer lead to define implementation for new features, and participate in regular sprint-planning meetings with the developer team to define and prioritize their work
  • collaborate with the Partnerships team to maintain user guides and documentation for partner organizations

You are:

  • obsessively attentive to detail
  • empathetic, putting yourself in the user’s shoes and acting as their main advocate
  • able to see the big picture and maintain strategic focus
  • persuasive, able to communicate your vision to both technical and non-technical audiences
  • a fantastic listener
  • creative, in the way that appreciates a clear wireframe and a well-pared MVP
  • at ease facilitating both a focused one-on-one conversation and a boisterous group debate

You have experience:

  • as a product owner or project manager on a software-development team
  • meeting with outside stakeholders
  • setting strategic goals and priorities

Salary is competitive and commensurate with education and experience. Democracy Works also offers a benefits package including health insurance, dental and vision, vacation, and a 403(b) retirement plan. We’re based in Brooklyn, NY and Denver, CO, and we hope you’ll want to work from our Brooklyn office, though we’ll consider remote arrangements for the perfect candidate.

To apply, send a resume and an informal introduction (say, two paragraphs?) to Katy and Mike at work@democracy.works with the subject “Will design for democracy.”

Democracy Works is committed to diversity and inclusion in everything we do and aspires to have a team that's representative of the voters we serve. When hiring, we practice proactive outreach to top talent that’s underrepresented in our sector (including Latino, Black, AAPI, and Indigenous candidates). We conduct an anonymized skills evaluation, to reduce implicit bias and resume-dependency in our process. We're a woman- and gay-founded startup, and promote an inclusive culture that stands against racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism (to name a few). To be explicit, we strongly encourage applicants of all races, ethnicities, political party associations, religions (or lack thereof), national origins, sexual orientations, genders, sexes, ages, abilities, and branches of military service. Feel free to contact work@democracy.works if you have any questions about our commitment to inclusion or about general hiring practices.

JOB: Project Management Fellow

UPDATE: As of 8/1/2016, we are no longer accepting new applications to this posting. Thank you for your interest!

At Democracy Works, we believe that voting should fit the way we live. To that end, we build and maintain several datasets of election information so every voter can know when and where to vote. This data powers everything from Google’s Civic Information API to our own text and email reminders to TurboVote users.

As the November presidential election approaches, we’re recruiting a short-term project lead to coordinate data fellows, outreach staff, and Democracy Workers to collect, parse, and assure the quality of a nation’s work of election data by November. This is a full-time, paid position running from immediately/the start of August through just after Election Day.

As a project lead for Democracy Works, you’ll:

  • Support a dataset that has served millions (and tens of millions) of voters since 2008

  • Organize, prioritize, and track the progress of the project from data collection through parsing, quality assurance, and publication.

  • Draft communications (emails, phone scripts) and contact election offices

  • Provide project updates to fellows, Democracy Workers, and external stakeholders

  • Coordinate the work of outreach fellows, data fellows, and Democracy Works staff

You are:

  • Obsessively attentive to detail

  • Creative, in the way that recognizes the artistry of a well-color-coded spreadsheet or Gantt chart

  • Capable of staying focused in a high-energy environment

  • Outgoing, whether making new friends over the phone or collaborating with a tight-knit team

You have experience:

  • Managing projects with tight deadlines

  • (Preferably) in politics or government

  • Working on highly collaborative teams

This is a full-time, competitively-paid position running through the week of the election. We’re based in Brooklyn, NY and strongly prefer fellows to join us in the Brooklyn office.

To apply, send a resume and pithy introduction to Katy and Carmen at work@democracy.works with the subject “Will organize for democracy.”

We are inspired by the idea of building an awesome and truly diverse team, so we strongly encourage applicants of all races, colors, political party associations, religions (or lack thereof), national origins, sexual orientations, genders, sexes, ages, abilities, and branches of military service. Feel free to contact work@democracy.works if you have any questions about our commitment to diversity or about general hiring practices.

 

JOB: Data Fellow

UPDATE: As of 8/1/2016, we are no longer accepting new applications to this posting. Thank you for your interest!

At Democracy Works, we believe that voting should fit the way we live. To that end, we build and maintain several datasets of election information so every voter can know when and where to vote. This data powers everything from Google’s Civic Information API to our own text and email reminders to TurboVote users.

As the November presidential election approaches, we’re recruiting a pair of data fellows to join our team in the herculean task of collecting, parsing, and assuring the quality of a nation’s worth of election data by November. This is a full-time, paid position running from immediately/the start of August through just after Election Day.

As a data fellow for Democracy Works, you’ll:

  • Support a dataset that has served millions (and tens of millions) of voters since 2008

  • Collect, review, reformat, and generally wrangle the thorniest of elections data

  • Apply (and maintain) parsers, quality assurance checkers, and data management scripts

You are:

  • Obsessively attentive to detail

  • Creative, in the way that recognizes the artistry of a well-wrought Excel macro

  • Capable of staying focused in a high-energy environment

  • Interested in civic tech, open data, and government 2.0

You have experience:

  • Handling large, complex datasets using some combination of Excel, SQL, and Ruby/Python (or similar)

  • (Preferably) in politics or government

  • Working on highly collaborative teams

This is a full-time, competitively-paid position running through the week of the election. We’re based in Brooklyn, NY and strongly prefer fellows to join us in the Brooklyn office.

To apply, send a resume and pithy introduction to Katy and Carmen at work@democracy.works with the subject “Will wrangle data for democracy.”

We are inspired by the idea of building an awesome and truly diverse team, so we strongly encourage applicants of all races, colors, political party associations, religions (or lack thereof), national origins, sexual orientations, genders, sexes, ages, abilities, and branches of military service. Feel free to contact work@democracy.works if you have any questions about our commitment to diversity or about general hiring practices.

 

By Executive Order: new TurboVote easier than playing Operation.

In 2010, we launched TurboVote to provide a simpler, easier voting experience. Since that launch, we’ve learned a lot – about voting rules, election administrators, and our voters themselves – and applied those lessons back to the work of building a better, modernized democratic process.

After the 2014 midterm election, we began rebuilding TurboVote from scratch, the better to integrate everything we’d learned. With the collaboration of our partners, users, and friends, we’ve spent the last year and a half defining the simplest, easiest possible voting experience. On March 7, we switched turbovote.org to the new application. At the beginning of June, we began transitioning our early-adopter partners to TurboVote 2.0.

Then, last Monday, BuzzFeed launched their Turn Up To Vote week as the first 2.0-native TurboVote partner. You might have seen their PSA about “Five Things that are Harder than Registering to Vote,” and you might have heard the President of the United States invite people to visit buzzfeed.turbovote.org. (If you haven’t watched it yet, you should. We’ll wait.)

It was quite the coming-out party.

So now that we’ve served our first few (thousands) of voters on TurboVote 2.0, it’s time to give it a proper introduction to our closest friends and supporters. If you’re not into all the nerdy details, feel free to stop here.

More elections, more local info
To start, TurboVote 2.0 is built on an entirely new data model, one that lets us define elections using a wider variety of jurisdiction types thanks to Open Civic Data Division Identifiers. It also lets us set election rules not only by state but also by locality, for those times when one county does things just a little bit differently than everywhere else.

Opening up
TurboVote 2.0 runs on a series of microservices that each handle one thing (voter registration, notifications, election authorities) and handle it very very well. Going forward, we’ll be able to share these with our partners, allowing other groups to remix and reimagine voter engagement, whether through testing variations on the TurboVote tool, or in completely different applications. If you’d like to poke around, most of these components are open-source and published on our GitHub account.

A better user experience
Though it looks familiar enough, we also reimagined the TurboVote workflow, taking into account frequently asked questions, user research, and partner input. And we’re already seeing significantly higher sign-up rates compared to the original TurboVote tool.

THANK YOU to everyone whose feedback, testing, and support contributed to this launch. We’re excited by how much better we’re able to serve our voters, and all the ways this will help us continue to improve the voting experience.

What do you and the president have in common?

You might not have heard from me in two weeks, but judging by all the traffic on the internet, you might’ve heard from one of our newest friends.

Turn Up To Vote with BuzzFeed
By way of BuzzFeed’s newest video “5 Things That Are Harder Than Registering To Vote," President Barack Obama encouraged folks to register to vote using TurboVote. 

That’s right. You and the president are both trying to register folks with TurboVote! Granted, his audience may be a little bigger, but the tools are just the same. And you have the added advantage of a whole student population just waiting to hear your message. Plus, our partnerships team has a whole bunch of ideas about how you can most effectively reach your students.

TurboVote IT Integration at Harvard
Thanks to the unwavering support and hard work of our partners at Harvard, particularly Cathy McLaughlin, we have some very exciting news to share. Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP), at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, is announcing the launch of a new program aimed at incoming students, which will allow them to use TurboVote to register to vote in any state while completing the mandatory online check-in process prior to arriving on campus. Administered by Harvard Registrar’s office, the partnership will be using the Oracle platform, which offers cloud applications and platform services for colleges and universities across the country. 

As we’ve said before, IT integration is the single most effective way to get signups through TurboVote. And the best part? IT integrations are easy! In the spirit of President Obama’s BuzzFeed video, the TurboVote Summer Associate team is excited to present: 5 Things That Are Harder Than Implementing a TurboVote IT Integration.

5. Asking passing students to register to vote! Even if you have matching jackets and winning smiles, they just won’t stop.

5. Asking passing students to register to vote! Even if you have matching jackets and winning smiles, they just won’t stop.

4. Registering people outside on a laptop! Only AppleCare can save you now.

4. Registering people outside on a laptop! Only AppleCare can save you now.

3. Voter registration pizza parties! No pizza was harmed in the making of this GIF.

3. Voter registration pizza parties! No pizza was harmed in the making of this GIF.

2. Going door to door registering voters! And interrupt their Game of Thrones marathon? No, thank you.

2. Going door to door registering voters! And interrupt their Game of Thrones marathon? No, thank you.

1. Battling the elements to register voters! There are no 100 degree temps, rain, OR snow on your student portal.

1. Battling the elements to register voters! There are no 100 degree temps, rain, OR snow on your student portal.

Well, it’s been an exciting week for TurboVote, so let’s keep that momentum going. Let’s create your fall engagement plan or start a discussion with your campus IT department! Enjoy your summer and until next time.

Best,
Brandon Naylor
Director of Communications
Democracy Works, makers of TurboVote

TurboVote's summer is already heating up! ☀😎🌴

The beginning of summer is here. I hope you’re taking the opportunity to relax a little, but June has shaped up to be pretty exciting at TurboVote. Let me share what we’ve been up to.

CLDE in Indy
I’d like to start off by thanking you for the outstanding turnout to the 2016 TurboVote Voter Engagement Symposium at CLDE. It looks like all that constant harassment to register worked! Attendance for the symposium was actually over capacity, but we accommodated on the fly and couldn’t have been more impressed with the energy of everyone there. After some discussion around voter engagement strategies and an exciting update from Cathy McLaughlin of Harvard University’s IOP, we dove right into the main event.

Votes & Ballots, the latest craze in high-stakes gaming, was a hit! All participants were divided up to represent fictitious colleges and universities tasked with creating impactful voter engagement plans, while dealing with challenges and opportunities along the way. How do you contend with the academic calendar when registering students? How do you create excitement around every election? How can you incorporate voter registration into the IT landscape of your campus? These questions were thrown at our participants and they came up with some excellent responses. In the end, Pawnee Community College was named the victor (congrats!), though it was the exchange of ideas that really impressed the TurboVote team. Hearing from different partners from across the country tell us what works for them (and what doesn’t) is invaluable to making sure we’re reaching as many potential voters as possible. Thank you to everyone that participated and we hope to see even more folks next year.

Free webinar for government relations
Please join AASCU & TurboVote for a webinar, Leveraging New Technology to Facilitate Campus Civic Engagement, on Thursday, June 16, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. During the program, representatives from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte will share strategies for how government relations professionals can be advocates for civic engagement work on campus and help coordinate campus groups into a single engagement campaign. If you aren’t the government relations person at your institution, please feel free to forward this invitation along to the appropriate individual, though all are welcome to attend.

Leaderboards
I always love to see movement in the leaderboards, because that means you’re out there promoting voter registration in one way or another. I’d like to welcome Stanford to the Top 25! I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the meteoric rise of Lone Star College, adding 433 sign-ups in a matter of a couple of weeks and now sitting at #1 overall. How’d they do it? Well, adding a TurboVote link to their student portal, as mentioned in the last implementer update, probably doesn’t hurt! Now might be a good time to email partnerships@turbovote.org to see how you can do something similar. Let’s also get some eyes on #2 Cal Poly, everyone. 486 in two weeks. To quote Emily, our partner support associate, “Cal Poly, comin' in hot!” Other risers include West Chester University with 56 and Miami Dade with 39 additional signups. Keep up the good work, all! 

Leaderboards, since Jan. 1, 2016, TurboVote signups only:

  1. Lone Star College - 1706
  2. California Polytechnic State University - 1321
  3. University of Notre Dame - 1121
  4. Kennesaw State University - 1109
  5. The University of Virginia - 1032
  6. West Chester University - 968
  7. University of Maryland - 918
  8. UNC Charlotte - 799
  9. Boston College - 798
  10. University of Missouri-Columbia - 774
  11. Brigham Young University - 738
  12. Macomb Community College - 684
  13. University of North Carolina at Greensboro - 456
  14. Miami Dade College - 430
  15. Washington University in St. Louis - 395
  16. Northeastern State University - 392
  17. Northeastern Illinois University - 365
  18. Boston University - 346
  19. James Madison University - 335
  20. William Paterson University - 330
  21. The University of Chicago - 323
  22. DePaul University - 319
  23. St. Petersburg College - 305
  24. Stanford University - 304
  25. Pennsylvania State University - 296

How will you move the needle as the mercury rises? Summer is a great time to plan your push for new and returning students in the fall. Give us a shout if you’d like to talk over what your voter engagement plan looks like (or if you need to create a new one from scratch).

Best,
Brandon Naylor
Director of Communications
Democracy Works, makers of TurboVote

This is the single most effective way to register voters this year.

I’m sure you’re wrapping up the school year, so I’ll keep this implementer update brief and to the point.

Last Call for CLDE RSVPs
You might remember from previous updates that the TurboVote partnerships team will be at the 2016 ADP/TDC/NASPA Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting taking place June 2-4 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown in Indianapolis, Indiana. We will be hosting a Voter Engagement Symposium Thursday, June 2nd from 11:30 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. Lunch will be provided, since saving democracy tends to work up quite the appetite. If you know you’ll be attending this symposium, we ask that you RSVP here as soon as possible.

IT Integration
A few months ago, we told you about IT integration and how incorporating TurboVote into your college or university technology can yield great results. Well, we’ve had our first use case and the results are pretty amazing. Lone Star College, a community college system with 6 campuses in Texas, became a TurboVote partner last year and almost immediately started finding ways to bring their IT department into the mix. As a result, Lone Star posted a call-to-action banner on their student portal to register through TurboVote and, over the last week, have had over 1,000 signups! That’s good enough to vault them into first place on our Top 25 Leaderboard.

Another partner, Dominican University, also recently integrated a TurboVote link into their open-source learning platform, Moodle.

IT integration is the single most effective way to get signups through TurboVote, so I encourage you to contact partnerships@turbovote.org to see how you can get started today! It’s probably simpler than you think and you can get the ball rolling to have it completed in time for the fall semester.

Guest Blog Post: Competition in athletic conference breeds voter registration enthusiasm
Joseph Wozniak, former TurboVote Summer Associate and rockstar implementer at Mercer University, recently wrote a guest post for the Democracy Works blog. He details how he used the innate competitive spirit surrounding collegiate athletics and turned it into a voter registration drive that stretched across an entire conference. Check out the post and be sure to contact our partnerships team to discuss how you might be able to implement something similar!

Leaderboards
As previously mentioned, we have a new #1! Lone Star jumped into first in dramatic fashion, but not to be outdone, Notre Dame, Kennesaw State, and the University of Virginia continue to add to their totals at the top. We’re at the end of the school year, so we expect to see these numbers drop off a little. That makes this an excellent time to make sure your voter engagement plan is all set for this summer and next school year so you can see your school’s name rocket up the leaderboards!

Leaderboards, since Jan. 1, 2016, TurboVote signups only:

  1. Lone Star College - 1273
  2. University of Notre Dame - 1122
  3. Kennesaw State University - 1109
  4. The University of Virginia - 1032
  5. University of Maryland - 918
  6. West Chester University - 852
  7. California Polytechnic State University - 835
  8. UNC Charlotte - 799
  9. Boston College - 797
  10. University of Missouri-Columbia - 773
  11. Brigham Young University - 737
  12. Macomb Community College - 684
  13. University of North Carolina at Greensboro - 455
  14. Washington University in St. Louis - 394
  15. Northeastern State University - 392
  16. Miami Dade College - 391
  17. Northeastern Illinois University - 365
  18. Boston University - 346
  19. James Madison University - 335
  20. The University of Chicago - 323
  21. DePaul University - 318
  22. William Paterson University - 302
  23. Pennsylvania State University - 296
  24. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Student Senate - 282
  25. St. Petersburg College - 280

I love seeing all those completed signups, implementers! I look forward to what you all have in store for the next leaderboards and keep up the good work!

Best,
Brandon Naylor
Director of Communications
Democracy Works, makers of TurboVote

GUEST BLOG: Competition in athletic conference breeds voter registration enthusiasm

By Joseph Wozniak, Mercer University

For a little over two years, the TurboVote team has positively supported the voting culture on Mercer University’s campus. By providing my institution with a simple tool that allowed us to collaborate alongside each other, we rallied around the idea that voting should be simple for everyone—especially our students. 

What started as a partnership with TurboVote has turned into faculty-led discussions on the importance of voting and a newly crafted student organization devoted to nonpartisan voter engagement, Mobilize Mercer. In order to build up the movement, our team educated our peers on the importance of voting and the barriers that exist for students. To do this, we presented at faculty meetings, individually met with student affairs professionals, and most importantly, encouraged other students to become involved.

The team at Mercer just began leading an effort to expand these efforts across an entire athletic conference. Because Mercer developed a positive voting culture, our Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Pearson, reached out to his peers at the nine other schools in the Southern Conference to discuss a voter engagement competition. We utilized an existing network of competitors and convened a meeting of every school’s student affairs department in Asheville, NC, at the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament this past March. 

Before going into this meeting, Dr. Pearson emphasized the current nature of higher education professionals. They’re all incredibly passionate and constantly working to enrich students’ lives. However, they’re also overworked with new people bringing them new initiatives every week, expecting them to lead each one. Because of this, we had to make our pitch as simple as possible and provide a framework so each school could envision the structure.

Now, each of the ten schools—four public, four private, and two military schools—in the Southern Conference are participating in a four round competition designed to set up sustainable organizing teams and increase voter engagement. The four rounds are designed to help schools develop a voter engagement team, measure voter turnout from 2012 and 2016, and to create and implement a playbook to increase voter engagement. 

We used connections, camaraderie, and simplicity to develop this initiative. A competitive nature already existed among the schools in the Southern Conference. As a result, and because of Mercer University’s commitment to voter engagement, we were able to tap into the Southern Conference’s existing network. This helped us find equally passionate and committed individuals. By building a simple four round competition we’ve shown steps and provided appropriate deadlines for guidance to each school. Going forward, we’ll be sharing the playbooks, holding conference calls, and encouraging our teams to build a supportive framework around voting.

JOB: Data Lead, Voting Information Project

UPDATE: As of 6/6/2016, we are no longer accepting new applications to this posting. Thank you for your interest!

At Democracy Works, we believe voting should fit the way we live. To that end, we build technology for both voters and election administrators that simplifies the process and ensures that no voter should ever have to miss an election.

TurboVote, our first service, tracks a voter’s elections. We provide all the materials and information they need to get registered, stay registered, and cast a ballot in every election, from municipal to national—and we’ll even mail forms with an addressed, stamped envelope for the local election office. Ballot Scout helps local election administrators track absentee ballots as they travel through the mail, providing transparency in the vote-by-mail process and making it easier to follow up when things go awry.

We also work with the Pew Charitable Trusts and Google to ensure that the Voting Information Project’s data is up-to-date and ready from one election to the next. The Voting Information Project (VIP) coordinates with state election offices to publish nationally-standardized information about where and how to vote—data that powers everything from Google’s polling place search to our own text message and email reminders to TurboVote users.

The Data Lead is the VIP team’s stalwart front line as we acquire, parse, and assess a nation’s worth of election data.

In this role, you'll:

  • Manage a dataset that has served millions (and tens of millions) of voters since 2008.

  • Train state election offices in data standards and exports

  • Build and maintain parsers, quality assurance checks, and data management scripts

  • Collaborate with the Democracy Works developer team and Google engineers

You are:

  • Obsessively attentive to detail

  • Creative, in the way that recognizes the artistry in a well-wrought Excel macro

  • Comfortable translating between jargon and vernacular

  • Passionate about civic tech and open data

  • Happiest working with a team

  • Interested in both the macro and micro views of any project

You (hopefully) have experience:

  • Handling large, complex datasets using some combination of SQL and Ruby/Python (or similar)

  • In an agile development environment

  • In politics, government, or non-profits

  • On highly collaborative teams

  • Providing customer support, or working with external partners

Salary is competitive and commensurate with education and experience. Democracy Works also offers a benefits package including health insurance, vacation, and a 403(b) retirement plan. We’re based in Brooklyn, NY and Denver, CO, and we hope you’ll want to work from our Brooklyn office, though we’ll consider remote arrangements for the perfect candidate.

To apply, send a resume and brief, informal introduction to Maria and Katy at work@democracy.works with the subject “Will data for democracy.”

We are inspired by the idea of building an awesome and truly diverse team, so we strongly encourage applicants of all races, colors, political party associations, religions (or lack thereof), national origins, sexual orientations, genders, sexes, ages, abilities, and branches of military service. Feel free to contact work@democracy.works if you have any questions about our commitment to diversity or about general hiring practices.

 

I hope you had a great Spring Break 🌴...now let’s get back to work! 💪

March Madness is certainly here, but I’m betting a fair number of you are still on Spring Break. So if you are off where the weather is nice, it’s completely acceptable to leave this email in your inbox until you get back next week. But don’t wait too long, because the end of the school year is just around the corner. It’s time to get ready for that last push of voter engagement before everyone heads home for the summer! Looking for ideas? Check out our New Partner Spotlight and the referral codes section from the Voter Engagement Toolkit to see how you can incorporate campus groups and track progress.

Campus Compact Conference
Will you be at next week's 30th Anniversary Campus Compact Conference in Boston? TurboVote staff will be there with swag to give away. We’ll also be giving two presentations on campus civic engagement strategies, both on Tuesday, 3/22. The first is from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. in Beacon A and will cover youth turnout in 2016. The second presentation, our interactive Voter Engagement Simulation, follows at 2:50 - 3:50 p.m. in Beacon D. If you’d like to connect in person, please email partnerships@turbovote.org. We’d love to meet up!

New Partner Spotlight - University of Missouri
As a result of the cancellation of some of their health care by the university, graduate students at the University of Missouri became quite engaged in campus affairs and wanted to be sure they were adequately represented in the state capital. Laura Satkowski, Director of State Affairs for the Graduate Professional Council, was charged with reaching out to TurboVote and beginning Mizzou’s partnership, but it turned out a number of on-campus groups wanted to participate, so a coalition was formed. We’re suckers for a good coalition. Almost immediately after implementing TurboVote, the link for the Mizzou co-branded site was shared through blast emails, on social media (including a retweet from the official Mizzou account), and in residential life surveys. “The first couple of days, it was interesting to check the dashboard on a regular basis and see the number of signups keep going up,” Laura said. Thinking ahead, Laura also worked with the TurboVote Partnerships Team to implement referral codes so the origin of traffic to the site could be tracked on the administrative dashboard. As a result, Mizzou’s implementers were able to assign codes, or customized links, to various campus groups, each residence hall, and campus cohorts (graduate or undergraduate students) to see who was most responsible for driving the greatest number of signups. The next phase of outreach implementers hope to initiate is a series of mass emails from the university office of financial aid, which is the on-campus entity responsible for voter registration. They’ll also be asking a little something more from their coalition members—a pledge to meet their goal of signing up 15% of their individual constituencies. Receiving this sort of buy-in and cooperation from campus groups can really help to increase interest and excitement in the outreach process (not to mention help in shouldering some of the work). This year to date, Mizzou has signed up almost 800 new voters, well on their way to meeting their benchmark of 1,000! It just goes to show you what can be accomplished with a little planning and an enthusiastic group of implementers. Way to go, Tigers and keep it up! To help give you an idea of who you might reach out to on your own campus, the University of Missouri coalition consists of:

  • Katie Steen, Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM) Executive Director, responsible for reaching out to the entire student body, 
  • Kate Hargis, ASUM Campus President, responsible for reaching out to the entire student body with a focus on undergraduates,
  • Billy Donley, Resident Hall Association President, responsible for students in residence halls, and,
  • Chris Dade, Tigers Advancing Political Participation member, responsible for outreach.

Voter Engagement Toolkit: Referral Codes
Have you thought about creating a campus voter registration challenge similar to Mizzou? You could reach out to various student groups and ask them to participate in voter outreach with the most signups receiving a prize or recognition. But how would you keep track of which signed up the most voters? Referral codes, my friends! It’s easy to create customized links to your co-branded TurboVote site, so you end up with your own campus leaderboard that would look something like this:

Our Voter Engagement Toolkit has all kinds of ideas to reach students all across campus using your referral codes. It’s really as sending an email to campus groups, setting some ground rules and timelines, and asking them to get as many students registered as possible. Residence halls, club sports, Greek life, and campus political groups are all good bottlenecks to try and receive as much by-in as possible. And as always, if you would like some help planning campus outreach, have new ideas you’d like to bat around, or have no idea how to even start, give us a shout at partnerships@turbovote.org.

Leaderboards
A few colleges and universities have bumped up in position since the last time we spoke, but it seems, on the whole, the Top 25 has plateaued a little bit. What I see is an opportunity for an endeavoring implementer out there to make a solid, coordinated push on campus to get an extra 200 - 300 signups before the next Implementer Update! This is your chance—while everyone else is napping, waiting for Spring Break, you can pounce and leapfrog a couple of other schools at once! So, who will it be? Who will put the extra work in while the rest of us are watching college basketball, eating cheesy poofs?

Leaderboards, since Jan. 1, 2016, TurboVote signups only:

  1. Kennesaw State University - 1108
  2. The University of Virginia - 1031
  3. UNC Charlotte - 797
  4. University of Notre Dame - 791
  5. Boston College - 789
  6. University of Missouri-Columbia - 762
  7. Brigham Young University - 722
  8. Macomb Community College - 684
  9. West Chester University - 392
  10. Northeastern State University - 391
  11. Washington University in St. Louis - 370
  12. Northeastern Illinois University - 360
  13. James Madison University - 332
  14. Boston University - 323
  15. The University of Chicago - 322
  16. DePaul University - 309
  17. Miami Dade College - 271
  18. Broward College - 261
  19. Seminole State College - 256
  20. University of North Carolina at Greensboro - 251
  21. University of Central Florida - 240
  22. Palm Beach State College - 215
  23. Northwest Missouri State University - 200
  24. St. Petersburg College - 199
  25. Tufts University - 199

I really hope you had a good, relaxing break, but it’s time to get back to it! I want the next Top 25 Leaderboard to blow me away. Are you in the Top 25? Challenge yourself to improve your position by one place! Not in the Top 25? Let’s see if you can make a showing in the next two weeks! I look forward to seeing what you all have in store.

Best,
Brandon Naylor
Director of Communications
Democracy Works, makers of TurboVote