The Voter ID App will cut through the confusion and quickly provide citizens with information on how to apply for a photo ID which they must show in order to vote.
In a 1957 speech titled "Give Us the Ballot,"
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: "So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind—it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact—I
can only submit to the edict of others."
Dr. King noted the denial of the right to vote "is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic traditions and it is democracy turned upside down."
Fast forward to today, the right to vote is under assault. Since 2008, there has been a wave of voting law changes that impose barriers to the ballot box. Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a veteran of "Bloody Sunday," calls the new laws "the most concerted effort to restrict the right to vote since before the Voting Rights Act." Indeed, POLITICO reports the act is under siege.
The right to vote is being chiseled away by strict voter ID laws that require voters to show government-issued photo ID in order to vote.
Voter ID requirements will have a disproportionate impact on minority and young voters.
Voter ID laws are proliferating. In Minnesota, racial imagery is being used to push photo ID.
With Election Day less than nine months away, we must move beyond identifying the problem. Voters in states with restrictive photo ID requirements need help now. They can't wait until September to get ready.
Voters in Wisconsin, for instance, must navigate "The 4 Proofs" to find out what documents they need to apply for a voter ID.
The Cost of Freedom Voter ID App will cut through the confusion. In four clicks or less, users will be able to quickly access the information they need. Too much information will overwhelm them and increase the number of voters who give
up in frustration.
In a speech at Tulane Law School, Attorney General Eric Holder said "the Justice Department can't do it alone." He called on every citizen to get involved: "For every citizen, protecting the right to vote, ensuring meaningful access, and combating discrimination must be viewed, not only as a legal issue – but as a moral imperative. And every citizen, in every state, must be part of this work."
The Cost of Freedom Project is heeding the Attorney General's call to action. To commemorate Dr. King, a crusader for justice whose legacy continues to inspire, we plan to launch the Cost of Freedom Voter ID App on April 4, 2012.
The civil rights generation fought to remove barriers to the ballot box. As restrictive photo ID laws proliferate across the country, it’s now our responsibility to protect the right to vote and stop voter suppression. The struggle continues.
The prototype for the Cost of Freedom App 2.0 was developed at the Hackathon for Social Good. Citizen developers, designers and researchers enabled us to demo proof of concept during a
panel discussion on social media and voter ID held during Social Media Week Washington, DC.
But the volunteer efforts of concerned citizens are not enough to build out the Cost of Freedom App in time to help voters who lack an official photo ID. We will use the funds to pay for a developer, web designer, user experience designer, researcher/database manager, and webhosting.
We will integrate existing APIs, e.g., CityGrid and Google Maps, but the information that is of the most value to voters, e.g., where to go to obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate, office hours and phone number, must be entered manually. Georgia alone has 159 counties. While voters can request their birth certificate by mail or online, as a practical matter, they will have to go in person because they need to submit a copy of their photo ID to get their birth certificate.
The tipping point of $10,000 will provide sufficient funds to pay for a programmer, web designer, and researcher/database manager to collect county-level data for two states (Georgia and Wisconsin), provide an overview of voter ID requirements in Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee, and update the database through Election Day.
Twilio is making an in-kind contribution of text message services. Each strict voter ID state will have a dedicated number to which voters can text “Voter ID” for information. For non-photo ID states, citizens can text, for instance, “OH,” for information about Ohio’s photo ID requirements.
If we reach our total goal of $25,000, we will gather county-level data for Indiana (92 counties), Kansas (105 counties) and Tennessee (95 counties). As of this writing, South Carolina (46 counties) and Texas (254 counties) have been blocked from implementing their voter ID laws. Both states have filed lawsuits against the Department of Justice.