Case Study

New York City and State of New Jersey

After Hurricane Sandy, over 250,000 text messages searches were made by residents of New York City and New Jersey to find the location of polling places.

Challenge

How do you get voters to the polls when a devastating storm leaves millions of people without power or access to the Internet?

The 2012 presidential election was scheduled to occur on the Tuesday following Hurricane Sandy, a storm that caused billions of dollars worth of damage along the Atlantic coast. Dozens of polling places were relocated due to flooding and power outages. Government officials needed a way to reach millions of voters and inform them of changes to previously assigned polling places in the few days between the storm and the election.

Solution

A text message polling place locator was promoted to help people find out where to vote.

Upland Mobile Messaging created a text message polling place locator to provide voters with updated information on reassigned polling places. Voters could text in their home address and receive a message with up-to-date information on their designated polling place for the election. Both New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg promoted the polling place locator on television and social media, encouraging voters to text in to find their new polling place and cast their votes on election day.

“With many poll sites affected by the storm, it’s even more important that we help New Yorkers find their way to the polls to make their voices heard. Thanks to this service, voters need only a cell phone to keep themselves informed.” – Art Chang, Chair of the Voter Assistance Advisory Committee

Results

Over 250,000 polling place locator searches were processed.

In the days following the storm, over 210,000 searches were conducted for people’s polling places in New York and New Jersey and over 250,000 searches were conducted nationwide. In addition to powering the polling place locator, Upland Mobile Messaging also helped send messages to parents about school closings and citizens about power outages.

The success of the polling place locator was commended in the media, including stories from CBS News, Mashable, NYC Votes! and more. The text message polling place locator has since been used by governments and organizations in various state and local elections across the country.

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