New app aims at making voting in NYC easier

Posted at 6:45 PM, Aug 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-09 18:45:59-04

LOWER EAST SIDE (PIX11) – If you’re anything like Sean Chi, chances are you take a more passive approach when it comes to voter registration.

“Usually I wait for someone to approach me asking me to register, that’s how it works,” Chi, a Bayside resident said.

That may be how it USED to work, but now NYC Votes is putting the power right in the hands of voters.

Art Chang is a member of the Campaign Finance Board and the Voter Assistance Advisory Committee.

Together with developers Pivotal Labs and the design agency Method, Chang helped create at no cost to tax payers.

The app allows all voters to register to vote, research candidates, find polling locations, and will eventually let voters donate to their favorite candidates.

And candidates can use the app to collect donations straight from their smart phones without having to worry about violating campaign finance rules.

“Government should seek to employ the same ease of use and power that consumers enjoy in their day to day lives and bring it to democracy,” Chang said.

So while you might be able to learn about your candidates and register to vote on your phone, Chang says it will likely still be a little while before you’re able to use it to cast your ballot.  So for the time being, you’re still going to have to go to the polls.

“I think there are a lot of really valid concerns about internet security, technology security, and whether that will come to us in our lifetimes, I don’t know,” Chang said.

While most voters told PIX11 they thought the app was a good idea, some feel it still won’t help those who need it most.

“The people who need to register are people who don’t have an iPhone, people who are in impoverished neighborhoods,” Frank McCrea of Woodside said.

And others say just because someone is registered doesn’t mean they’ll actually make it out on Election Day.

“A lot of people stay home and don’t go to vote, which is kind of a bad thing.  If you want your voice to heard, that’s the only way it’s going to be heard,” Joseph Sandy said.

But Chi says he’ll likely use the app now that he knows about it.  And eliminating any obstacle to voting just makes sense.

“I mean yeah, make it as convenient as possible, no reason not to,” he said.

That way, all you have to do is show up and make your voice heard.