Some questions we often get from press and the public.
What motivated you to create VoterVOX?
The idea for VoterVOX started with late night conversations that we had with Sabrina Hersi Issa, a leader in using technology in the service of human rights. She shared with us her experience of helping her immigrant grandmother vote for the first time, and we asked ourselves, “Could there be a tech solution that would not only bridge the language access divide, but empower communities at the same time?” We realized there was a huge need for a tool that could help bridge the language access gap that prevents AAPI voters from turning out on election day.
That initial conversation led to VoterVOX. At 18MillionRising.org, we firmly believe that smart tech solutions grounded in the needs of grassroots organizations and AAPI communities are important tools to build community power.
Apps and technology shouldn’t just help us streamline the process of ordering food or hailing a car service, but can and should be harnessed to also solve what we call “design flaws in our democracy.” Will VoterVOX alone fix the problem of fair access to voting? Of course not — but it’s a much-needed addition to our toolbox, one that also includes organizing and legislative advocacy.
What was the biggest challenge in creating VoterVOX?
The incredible diversity of the AAPI community in the US is both an asset and a challenge. How to create one tool that could be used by different communities in cities around the country, all in a variety of languages?
We knew that in order to create VoterVOX, we had to have an extensive design process that centered deep conversations and relationship-building with advocates from around the country. The feedback we received through this process shaped all of our design considerations.
Who will be using VoterVOX in 2016?
Currently, we have community partners in California and Minnesota, who will be using VoterVOX as part of their civic engagement and get out the vote efforts this year.
The primary users will be two-fold:
- Registered voters who sign up through the app for language assistance, and
- Multilingual volunteers who register through the app to be paired with an LEP voter.
We anticipate that users who are voters will be primarily immigrants from Asian countries — in Minnesota, Hmong and other southeast Asian refugees, and in California, Chinese immigrants speaking a variety of dialects as well as southeast and south Asian immigrants living in key areas in both Northern and Southern California.
While we welcome any multilingual volunteer who wishes to sign up, we expect that the bulk of volunteers will be 1.5- or second-generation Asian Americans who speak both English and an Asian language fluently.
How many people do you anticipate using VoterVOX this election season?
This year, our goal is to serve 1000 voters in Minnesota and 1500 in California. Because this is the first year of a multi-year experiment, we know we need a large enough sample size to give us reliable data that will help us continue to refine VoterVOX to serve the needs of organizations and the communities in which they work.
How do you see VoterVOX being used beyond this election season?
VoterVOX, despite the name, is not just limited to electoral work! The potential for different uses is really endless, and we believe that VoterVOX can be used by organizations and communities in a variety of ways — for example, we’ve already had interest from some in using VoterVOX to match people with volunteers who can provide immigration and naturalization assistance.
Can anyone sign up to request voting assistance or to volunteer?
While we’re only offering formal support for users in Minnesota and California this year, there’s no reason that you can’t sign up or do a mini-launch of the tool in your state! Plus, signing up will ensure that you’re on our mailing list when we roll out VoterVOX in other states.
I don’t see my community’s language listed. How can I participate?
The languages we’re starting with are languages that our community partners have asked us to include, but we absolutely welcome contributions from our community in translating the tool into other languages!
If you’re interested in supporting this process, please be in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.