This Weekend, Be Your Own Get-Out-The-Vote MachineNovember 2, 2012 - by Donny Shaw
With the White House, the Senate, and the House of Reps. all in play heading into Tuesday’s elections, now is the time to get your voting plans in order and to connect with your networks to make sure that everyone else is planning to vote.
Our friends at Fight for the Future (a.k.a. the group behind the SOPA blackout in January) have built a fantastic app that makes it easy for you to set up your own DIY get-out-the-vote operation. It’s called “Vote With Friends,” and it uses the best recent social research into what gets people to vote to help you apply exactly the right kind of friendly nudge to your on-the-fence friends.
The app lets you publicly pledge to vote, see which of your friends are considered likely voters this year (based on public records), invite your friends to pledge to vote, and join dozens of issue-based voting blocks. After the election you’ll be able to see who of your friends actually followed up on their pledges and cast their ballots, and who didn’t.
According to a recent study from Yale University, in a few recent elections people who were notified by mail that their neighbors would know whether or not they voted showed up at the polls in much greater numbers. According to the authors of the study, it follows “past psychological research which demonstrates that people are more likely to follow social norms when their behavior is observed by others.”
“Vote With Friends” takes the sort of gentle social nudge that was used with success in the study and, for the first time ever, applies it to the rich, online social networks that people have created over the past several years.
”Vote With Friends” gives you access to the same information that the partisan political operations and big-money political groups have, and it makes it super easy to use your social reach online to get people to actually show up at the polls. Simple as it is, this sort of use of technology and public data is going to have a major impact on how democratic civic engagement works. Using the Vote With Friends app now will guarantee that you are a part of the avant-garde of the participatory, inclusive, internet-driven civic engagement movement that is basically our only hope at correcting the corruption that guides our politics today.
Extra credit: Join the Thunderclap. Thunderclap is a new service that uses a Kickstarter-like pledge system to organize synchronous social-media blasts for causes.