With the midterm elections quickly approaching, I decided to tackle student voter turnout for my Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship. My final solution, a chat tool that gives any student the resources to help their friends successfully vote, is a product of my passion for tech, UI/UX, and human-centered design. This was my first design project that got me excited about the power of design and technology to create social change.
01 / The Ecosystem
This graph shows that traditionally, voters ages 18-30 typically don't show at the polls at the rates older generations do.
I was one of these lazy 18-year-olds. During the first election I was eligible to participate in, I didn't vote, simply because I didn't want to deal with the logistics of it all. I didn't register until my family began to pester me, and realized that this pressure was extremely effective.
02 / The Root Cause
I conducted interviews with students on-campus and did some individual research about the voting process itself. In the end, I determined a few of the biggest issues keeping young people from voting are laziness and confusion. Students didn't want to bother with figuring out how to register, request an absentee ballot, research issues. Many have the motivation, but got stuck along the way.
I began to sit down with my friends and help them one at a time. The combination of face-to-face peer pressure and a knowledgable source was very effective--how could I mobilize any person to aid their peers in the process of preparing to vote?
03 / The Research
Below is a simplified flow chart on the actions required for a first-time voter. As one can see, it's fairly complicated!
It gets even more complex when considering registration/mail-in deadlines or re-registering in another location. I needed to create a simple, user-friendly tool that allowed any student to help another with the process and give them needed resources.
04 / The Solution
I built a Facebook Messenger-based chatbot that allows a student to help a friend prepare to successfully vote. It follows the flowchart above. Here's the idea:
A student sits down with a friend who they think needs a push in the right direction. The face-to-face/peer-pressure approach is more effective than, say, posting on social media.
The chatbot provides a script to read to the friend. It also gives the student instructions with physical actions, for example, to text a link with online research resources.
Rinse and repeat!
This solution tackles laziness (someone else is essentially doing the work for you) and confusion (someone else has all the necessary resources in one place). Also, the chatbot gives anyone the power to help students vote!