Seth Flaxman ‘07CC, Ensuring that Democracy Works

Founded by Seth Flaxman ‘07CC, and Kathryn Peters in 2010, Democracy Works has one mission: making the voting process easier and more accessible for eligible voters. After all, in a country that uses apps for everything from monitoring our sleep to controlling our diet, shouldn’t there be an easy, tech-forward way to ensure that we’re exercising one of our most fundamental constitutional rights? With the launch of TurboVote, Flaxman and Peters hoped to accomplish precisely that.

The app’s purpose is simple — to equip its rapidly-growing user base with all the information they need to get out and vote. In the last presidential and midterm election, 60% of non-voters didn’t vote because of process issues, not because of disinterest. By helping voters register, and reminding them where and when voting takes place, TurboVote aims to significantly improve that statistic.

Democracy Works has been involved with several other projects beyond TurboVote, as well. For The Voting Information Project, for instance, Democracy Works is partnering with Google to collect civic data and provide accurate and easily accessible Election Day information to the public. On the government services side, Democracy Works has also launched Ballot Scout. After learning that more than one million absentee ballots never reach their intended recipients, and more than two million ballots never find their way back to the local election authority, Flaxman and Peters created Ballot Scout to help local governments track ballots more accurately.

Recently, Democracy Works launched TurboVote 2.0, an update on the original with improved overall system performance. For developers, this update makes TurboVote infinitely more accessible — with the addition of APIs, it’ll be easier than ever for organizations to customize TurboVote and cobrand it to their corporate specifications.

At the moment, Democracy Works is focusing a good deal of their energy around the development of yet another exciting project. Dubbed The TurboVote Challenge, this project is a partnership between Democracy Works and 30 major organizations across the country (including heavy-hitters like Starbucks, Target, and Spotify). By pledging to help improve voter engagement, these companies are joining Democracy Works in its attempt to increase turnout from 55% in 2012 to 80% in 2020.

As far as the big picture goes, Democracy Works’ ultimate goal is to help the U.S. become a fully engaged and inclusive democracy — and that begins by ensuring that every American is able to cast their vote on Election Day.

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