In the 2017 Virginia and New Jersey elections, as well as others across the country, Democratic leaning groups made far more use of innovative technology to remind and get out less habitual voters. These trends were expected to play a major role in the 2016 Presidential Elections but underperformed relative to expectations, so their re-emergence in the 2017 races is indicative that 2018 is shaping up to be a much more tech-centric election.
One of the platforms on the front-lines of this technology innovation is TurboVote, and I caught up with founder Seth Flaxman to hear more about their direct impact. What he told me amounted to a fascinating primer on how Virginia and New Jersey essentially functioned as a two state laboratory for programs that can be rolled out nationwide next year. According to Seth:
TurboVote helped more than 1.2 million voters find their polling place through the Voter Information Project (VIP), across 70 state and local elections.
The Virginia Department of Elections contracted to use Democracy Works's Ballot Scout software to help track over 200,000 absentee ballots.
In Virginia, TurboVote helped 60,041 voters with registration, voting by mail or text message notifications of where and when to vote.
TurboVote Challenge partner AppNexus helped us run an experiment where over 700,000 registered voters in VA and NJ were reminded to vote, with over 10 million impressions, and where we'll be able to directly measure impact.
Each of these bullets relates to an important potential use of technology in more states for 2018.
In particular, TurboVote plans to roll out the vote reminders and registration to a far wider range of voters for the November 2018 elections. Because, empirically speaking, Democratic voters both are more likely to use reminder technology and are less likely to vote on election day under neutral circumstances, this could have a very significant impact in key states next year.