U.S. Citizens: Start with a Bot and End with a Ballot

U.S. Vote Foundation's Civic Data API Drives the New GoVoteBot Solution

The 2016 election season has been unlike any other in more ways than one - and believe it not, some of them are positive! Chief among the positives is the new GoVoteBot from R/GA and the Ad Council. With the aim of increasing voter participation in the Fall 2016 Presidential Elections, the two innovative firms teamed up to bring forward a solution to navigating the quagmire of voter dates, deadlines, requirements and regulations.

As President and CEO of U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote), I would venture to say it's the coolest new voter tool of 2016.

Voting is so complicated for so many of our citizens with all the state-by-state variations in the process. Innovation tends to go slowly as there is limited investment and a  small, highly-fragmented market. Much of the time, the voting population is waiting for a philanthropic infusion. This little nugget, the GoVoteBot, is pure gold. The innovative concept of bringing artificial intelligence into the process and having it work through Facebook Messenger - those are the extra bells and whistles that make this baby sing.

GoVoteBot is the brainchild of Bob Greenberg, Founder, CEO, Chairman of the tech-savvy digital marketing agency, R/GA.

“Our mission is to help every American get the information they need so they can vote. GoVoteBot offers us the best way to reach the generation who currently votes the least, but is the most technically astute,” said Greenberg. “By using bots, we can answer each person’s question no matter where they live in the US – and then engage them with helpful tips as they head to their polling place.”

Relatively new, chatbots allow users to have a conversation with knowledge platforms about a specific topic. In this case R/GA worked with US Vote's Civic Data API and Google Civic for the information and with Reply.ai to build GoVoteBot to walk people step by step through the process.

Responding in real time on Facebook Messenger, GoVoteBot offers the details eligible voters need to navigate their way through a system that is complex and often dependent on geography. People can:

·      Determine if they are registered or not

·      Find out where to register to vote

·      Decide if an absentee ballot is needed

·      Select early voting opportunities where possible

·      Locate their polling place

·      Identify voting times for their polling place

·      Research state deadlines and laws about voting

With GoVoteBot, voters from all 50 states quickly find the information they need to participate in the presidential election on November 8. U.S. citizens are able to chat with the bot on Facebook Messenger and ask if they are registered, find out where to register, and receive information about their polling place hours and location. A non-partisan tool, GoVoteBot has no opinion on whom people vote for—only making sure that they have the tools they need to do so. 

“One of the core rights of our democracy and the greatness of our country is our right to vote, but nearly half of Americans didn’t vote in the last election,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “We’re so proud to work with R/GA and our partners to get the word out about GoVoteBot and encourage people throughout the country to get out and vote.”

Over 43% of eligible U.S. voters did not vote in the 2012 general election. GoVoteBot is designed to increase voter participation by helping people overcome common barriers to registering and voting. The chatbot takes people who are first-time voters, recently moved or lack general information through the entire process from registration to voting day.

Underscoring the reason to create the GoVoteBot, a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that an estimated 69.2M Millennials (adults ages 18-35 in 2016) are eligible to vote – a number almost equal to the 69.7 million Baby Boomers (ages 52-70) in the nation’s electorate, as of April 2016.

About Ad Council

The Ad Council is a nonprofit organization with a rich history of marshaling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver crucial messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit Adcouncil.org, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or view our PSAs on YouTube.

About R/GA

R/GA, the agency for the Connected Age, develops products, services and communications to grow our clients’ brands and businesses. Founded in 1977, the agency has been a pioneer at the intersection of technology, design and marketing with work spanning web, mobile, and social communications, retail and e-commerce, product innovation, brand development and business consulting. R/GA has more than 1,800 employees globally with offices across the United States, Europe, South America, and Asia-Pacific and is part of The Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE:IPG), one of the world’s largest advertising and marketing services organizations.