Every voter knows the potential pitfalls of Election Day: The polling station is difficult to find, you can't remember the voting date, or you don't know what time the polls open and close. Thanks to the wide use of smartphones and their related apps, however, Election Day will never be the same.
To start with, the New York City Board of Elections (NYCBOE) is making it easier for voters to get out and cast their votes. The NYCBOE poll sites app is primarily designed to help voters find their polling station. It's the first time the Board has released an election-related app.
"This app release is part of a greater initiative for us to improve communication between the Board of Elections and NYC voters on Election Day," stated commissioner Maria Guastella, president of the Board, in a press release about the app. "Now, we can provide up-to-date poll site information and alerts to voters, wherever they are."
The app is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Bengali for Android, Blackberry, and iPhone users -- all in time for the November general election.
The app can be downloaded for free from the NYCBOE's website. It can get information including poll site information, maps with directions from any New York City resident's address to his or her poll site, upcoming election dates, sample ballots, and updates and alerts from the Board of Elections.
Another app from PollWatchUSA is pitching itself as a way to democratize election monitoring. The app works as a conduit for reporting and gathering information about Election Day problems, including whether there are broken voting machines, slow polling station workers, not enough ballots, etc.
When voters report a problem with the app, it then gets mapped out on the PollWatchUSA website and reported to the relevant election administration. All collected data is open and accessible through an API.
"Our goal is to facilitate solving those problems as quickly as possible so that any voter who wants to vote is able to do so easily," states PollWatch USA on their website. The venture is a joint project of Common Cause/NY, Reboot, and Websava.
PollWatchUSA will be rolling out its app in November in New York.
Genevieve Belmaker is a freelance journalist with more than seven years of experience reporting in New York City.