A new organization called TechVotes launched this year in Austin as a big get-out-the-vote effort.
TechVotes is being spearheaded by Erin Defosse, chief product officer for Aceable. Defosse says TechVotes is nonpartisan and is focused on getting more tech workers registered to vote, offering education resources and getting workers to the polls. The group is also asking tech companies to be more encouraging of voting.
The problem TechVotes is trying to fix? Disengagement. Austin's tech community historically has been uninterested in politics, especially local races, and doesn't vote in large numbers. Unlike, for instance, the real estate industry which is usually active in local races and politics.
With early voting starting on Monday, we wanted to check in on what TechVotes has accomplished so far:
During the voter registration period, TechVotes help "deputize" people at local tech companies to be voter registrars, enabling them to register people to vote at their offices. "We had around somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 people at different companies become deputized voter registrars," Defosse said. He said he doesn't know yet the exact number of people registered as a result of TechVotes.
Getting tech companies on board
On the TechVotes website, there are the logos of about 30 companies that are "supporters" of TechVotes. There are more companies that are official supporters that haven't provided their logos yet, Defosse said.
Becoming supporters of the effort means the companies have agreed to allow deputy registrars who work at their company to register workers, they are communicating with employees about TechVotes voting resources, and they are making it easy for employees to vote, such as not scheduling important meetings on Election Day.
Supporting companies include Silicon Labs, HomeAway and WP Engine, among others.
Informing voters about the election choices
TechVotes has partnered with the League of Women Voters, which puts together a nonpartisan voter's guide on national, state and local race that typically includes bios or questionnaires of each candidate.
Contrary to its name, the League of Women Voters guide is not focused just on women's issues.
Defosse said it's also their job to educate tech workers on simple things, like the fact that a registered voter doesn't have to vote at a certain polling location and can vote anywhere in Travis County. Their website offers up this sort of helpful information.
Free rides to the polls
TechVotes has put together a handy guide to all the entities offering free or discounted rides to the polls during early voting or on Election Day, which is Nov. 8. Turns out Cap Metro and Yellow Cab offer free rides to the polls, and ride-hailing companies such as RideAustin are offering substantial discounts.
A big advertising push
Defosse said the group plans to spend thousands of dollars on targeted advertising to the tech community, on sites like Facebook or Instagram, to inform them on where to vote, how to get there and how to find the League of Women Voters voter's guide. (Defosse declined to say who the financial backers of TechVotes are.)
And of course, there's a party
TechVotes is going to host a happy hour at Silicon Labs on Nov. 3 to celebrate the end of early voting. Learn more about that event by clicking here.
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