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Former Obama White House staffers wanted more people to vote -- so they created an app

Vote With Me is an app developed by DC-based company the New Data Project that is "designed around how people interact," Mikey Dickerson, the Executive Director of the New Data Project said.
Photo courtesy of the New Data Project.

WASHINGTON -- A group of former Obama White House staffers want more people to vote – and they’ve created an app to help people out.

Vote With Me is an app developed by D.C.-based company the New Data Project that is “designed around how people interact,” Mikey Dickerson, the Executive Director of the New Data Project said.

The app tells you when your next election is, who is running, and how to get registered. But, it also helps create what Dickerson called a “societal pressure norm” around voting.

VERIFY: Should you ask for a 'provisional ballot with a receipt' if you are challenged at the polls?

There’s an option to directly contact your network of friends and family to encourage them to vote. “We want to make voting an expectation, like putting on pants,” Dickerson said.

The app comes from both techies and former White House alum. Dickerson, who used to work for Google, volunteered on both the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns. In 2013, he was brought on by the Obama administration to work on healthcare.gov. He then was appointed by Obama to run the U.S. Digital Service.

Similarly, New Data’s Deputy Executive Director Sarah Sullivan served as Senior Writer to President Obama before joining the U.S. Digital Service.

Dickerson said they began New Data after the Trump administration came in and developed the app to address “weaknesses in the 2016 election” and to help progressive movements engage voters.

For example, Dickerson explained, traditional field tactics, such as canvassing or phone banks, had little effect on voters in 2016.

To solve that problem, New Data set out to find a new tactic and thus, Vote With Me was born.

Dickerson said it takes advantage of someone’s contact network and is an “actual tool that works in this world.” It launched mid-September.

So far, more women have used the app, he said, and they’re specifically targeting people under 35, who have had historically low voter turnout. They also designed the app to target Democratic voters.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016, U.S. citizens age 65 and older had the highest turnout while 18-to-29-year-olds had the lowest turnout. Nonetheless, the younger age group reported an increase in turnout from 2012.

Dickerson said the app will continue develop after the midterm elections in November. With apps like this, he said, “you only get one big trial,” as in the presidential election, and one smaller test, like the midterms.

The midterm elections will be on Tuesday, November 6.

RELATED: Deadlines to register to vote are soon: What you need to know

In Maryland, you can register to vote in person by November 1 as the mail-in deadline has passed. October 15 was the last day to register in Virginia and D.C. residents can register in-person on election day as long as they have a proof of residence.

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