On a typical election day the Secretary of the State’s office receives between 3,000 and 5,000 phone calls from voters looking for their polling place. This year Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is hoping a new online and mobile gadget will help cut down on the calls.
The new online and mobile gadget was developed for free by the Voter Information Project, which teamed up with the Pew Center for the States and Google to create the polling place application.
In 2010, the “Find My Polling Place” gadget helped voters locate their polling place on over 320 websites which embedded it, Maggie Murphy, state liaison for Voter Information Project, said.
By the time the polls closed last November, gadgets embedded on these sites helped over 7.2 million people find their polling location, Murphy said.
Connecticut is one of about 15 states participating in the project this year.
Merrill said she would like to expand the capability of the gadget in the future to include information such as sample ballots.
For the first time this year Merrill’s office is making copies of each town’s ballot available online.
“I want to remind the voters of Connecticut that Election Day is around the corner in your town or city, so now is the time to find out what offices and candidates are on the ballot,” Merrill said. “Many important decisions concerning town budgets and schools are going to be made in your community based on who wins the elections on November 8th so I urge every voter in Connecticut to visit our website, see who is running, and familiarize yourself with the ballot you will be using on Tuesday November 8th.”
The Voter Information Project started teaming up with developers to create the gadget and accompanying mobile application because in 2008 almost 2 million Americans failed to vote simply because they did not know where to go.
In 2010, the Voter Information Project gadget was viewed 12,740,686 times in the days leading up to Election Day.
Merrill said she wants to be at the forefront of these types of developments to improve participation in democracy.
In 2009, the last municipal election cycle, voter turnout statewide was about 36.4 percent. Merrill said she’d like to improve that number this year.
And while the gadget is free for any site that wants to embed it, Merrill said the key to getting people to use it will be in how it is marketed. But there’s no state funding available to market it.
All of the information for the embedded gadget and mobile application were provided by the state, which uses information provided by the local Registrar of Voters.
The gadget is embedded below and those with smartphones who want to download it can go here.