This was the first election season that the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area offered Vote411.org to the voting public. Althought he challenges were formidable and the learning curve steep, it’s fair to say we met and exceeded expectations.
94% of area candidates completed League member questions. Over 4,400 area voters accessed Vote411.org to either get information or create a ballot template to assist in voting.
For our first time out, this is impressive.
Mastering the Vote411.org software and website was challenging yet that was, in some ways, the easiest part. We then had to convince candidates to answer our questions and let voters know the benefits of using Vote411.org. This took concerted and coordinated League teamwork.
League members composed relevant and probing questions that would help inform voters about candidate positions. Candidates needed to trust that enough voters would read their answers to make efforts worthwhile.
It took a team effort to get candidates to respond. Nancy Williams followed up initial email requests with “snail mail” letters reminding candidates to respond to our questions. Ruth Wilwerding and her team made phone calls to candidates. MaryAnn Bromley conducted demonstrations at forums and local fairs to help voters and candidates learn to use Vote411.org. And Sandy Stern got the publicity out to local newspapers and local TV stations.
It really took a village.
As a poll manager on election day it was heartening to see voters approach the ballots booths with their ballots pre-printed from Vote411.org or a pre-ballot on their smartphones. This made their time in the booth much shorter and voting lines move more quickly.
The initial success of VOTE411.org holds great promise in furthering the League’s mission: Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.
~John Riolo, VOTE411.org Specialist