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Help us monitor voting problems in the US midterm elections with a simple text message

By John Keefe
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Voters facing long lines, broken machines, or other impediments to casting their ballots in the US midterm elections can now alert journalists as those issues happen, and try to get the problems fixed.

You can sign up to participate right now. Here’s how:

  • Text VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish), or 投票 (for Chinese) to 81380
  • Message us at 1 850 909-8683 on WhatsApp

On the other end of the line is a bot made by the Quartz Bot Studio, which will forward the details to a coalition of news organizations led by ProPublica called Electionland. Local reporters around the US can then investigate those voting issues in real time, increasing the chances that problems are addressed before the polls are closed. Journalists from ProPublica, Quartz, and other news organizations will also monitor voting issues from a joint newsroom in New York.

If you send us a message, our bot will ask you a few simple questions and then check back on election day, Nov. 6. If you’ve already cast a ballot in early voting, which is possible in many states, the bot will take your report right away. Submitting a report is quick, easy, and will help ensure that everyone gets a fair chance to vote this year.

Voting problems are extremely common in the US, effectively disenfranchising many Americans. Electionland’s mission is to document and help fix as many of these issues as possible.

In 2016, Electionland monitored election-day voting issues texted to the group, mentioned on social media, and phoned in to the Election Protection hotline. That effort led to hundreds of news articles about voting across the country and the resolution of several election problems. Electionland also debunked Donald Trump’s claim that millions had voted illegally.

For this year’s effort, we are expanding the ways that voters can report problems. We’re particularly excited to accept reports via WhatsApp, which is the messaging app of choice for millions of Americans. It’s one of the first uses of a WhatsApp bot to troubleshoot election issues. WhatsApp only recently opened its platform to some kinds of bots.

We hope to hear from you on election day.

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