The cornerstone of a democracy is the right of its citizens to vote in elections. But the United States is well behind most of their peer democratic countries, with only 56% of the voting-age population casting a vote in the last presidential election, according to the Pew Research Center. That percentage drops even lower in non-presidential elections. The Help America Vote Challenge, sponsored by The Jack Brooks Foundation (JBF), seeks ideas from US citizens for how to improve voter participation. The three most compelling ideas will share in a $15,000 prize purse.
Low voter turnout in US elections has been reported for several decades. Many barriers exist, including transportation issues, long wait times at the polls, voter apathy, and scheduling conflicts with employers. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted voter turnout as well.
When elections have poor voter turnout, the results no longer reflect the needs and wants of the general public - whether it is a stand on important policy issues or the selection of a particular candidate for office.
How You Can Help
The Jack Brooks Foundation seeks submissions that propose compelling, non-partisan approaches to improving voter turnout. JBF wants more Americans to exercise their constitutional right to vote, and we want your ideas for how to achieve this. All ideas must be non-partisan. The goal is to improve voter participation, not to impact the outcome of elections.
What You Can Do To Cause A Breakthrough
Engaged and informed citizens are key to a healthy democracy. However, if people encounter barriers to voting, that enthusiasm can be lost. JBF seeks proposals that identify viable solutions to improve The Voting Process to increase voter turnout.
Engaged and informed citizens are key to a healthy democracy. However, if these individuals encounter barriers to voting, participation in the process can suffer. JBF seeks proposals that identify viable solutions to improve the voting experience.
According to the Pew Research Center, the United States of America lags in voter participation. The first step to participation in The Voting Process is registration. In 2016, only 64% of the US voting-age population was registered, compared to 90% in Canada. The actual voter turnout rate in the United States is around 50%, substantially lower than other countries, like Belgium, where 90% of registered voters cast ballots. The US ranks 26 out of 32 highly developed, democratic countries for voter turnout.
Voter turnout is influenced by many different factors. One factor is geography - voter turnout can vary widely based on location. More than 60% of voters participated in the 2018 midterm elections in western states like Colorado, Minnesota, and Montana. But only 40% did so in the southeast region: Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Voter turnout in the state of Hawaii was less than 40%. Other factors affecting voter turnout include:
The Jack Brooks Foundation seeks to improve the ease with which Americans engage in the political process. The mission of the Foundation, named after the 21-term congressman from Texas, is to “empower the American electorate” with effective non-partisan methods to improve voter turnout. The ultimate goal is to consistently raise voter turnout in every election.
Through this challenge, JBF hopes to identify voting obstacles and how they can be overcome. JBF believes that American democracy will be strengthened by having more voters engaged in the process of choosing their leaders, at all levels of government.
Individuals and organizations from across the country are invited to submit their proposals that identify barriers or obstacles to voter participation and suggest changes and innovations that could be implemented to overcome said barriers and improve voter turnout at the polls.
Potential approaches of interest include but are not limited to:
Approaches of all maturity levels are of interest to JBF, from initial ideas to tested programs. Proposals should present compelling evidence and/or sound reasoning of expected effectiveness.
The Jack Brooks Foundation is committed to the idea that increased voter participation is beneficial to this country, regardless of the voter’s political affiliation and preferences. As such, all proposals must be non-partisan in nature and scope and must be submitted by US citizens. Any proposal which intentionally favors a particular political party will be excluded from consideration in this challenge.
Submissions should include detailed information regarding:
Respondents are encouraged, but not required, to include a short, five-minute video presentation describing the proposed approach (an opportunity to include a link to an online video will be included in the response form).
A total of up to $15,000 US will be distributed to the top three respondents:
Grand Prize: $7,500 US
Second Prize: $5,000 US
Third Prize: $2,500 US
The Jack Brooks Foundation may also use submissions to identify potential collaboration partners following the conclusion of the Challenge.
Open to submissions - September 8, 2020
Submission deadline - November 20, 2020 @ 5pm ET
Judging - November 30, 2020 - January 31, 2021
Winners Announced - February 2, 2021
To be eligible for an award, your proposal must, at a minimum:
Solutions must, at a minimum:
To what extent does the respondent expect voter engagement to increase (either in a specific audience or in the voting populace in general)?
What evidence is provided to demonstrate the anticipated impact?
How likely is it that the proposed approach can be implemented locally, regionally, or nationally?
Does the respondent provide evidence or adequate description of how the approach may be scaled?
|Quality of the proposed approach|
Is this approach feasible and well-reasoned?
Is it likely to be successful if implemented?
What evidence does the respondent provide to demonstrate that the proposed approach would be effective in the US?
|Innovation||How creative is the proposed approach? Does it represent a new approach or one not widely used currently?||20|
Does the submitter effectively communicate the barrier(s) in question and how it impacts the target group?
Is the barrier identified by the submitter a valid one?
The challenge is open to all adult individuals, private teams, public teams, and collegiate teams. All submitters must hold valid US citizenship. Submissions must be made in English. All challenge-related communication will be in English.
No specific qualifications or expertise is required. Prize organizers encourage outside individuals and non-expert teams to compete and propose new solutions.
To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement
Registration and Submissions:
Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the HeroX.com website, on or before 5:00pm ET on November 20, 2020. No late submissions will be accepted.
Intellectual Property Rights:
As detailed in the Challenge-Specific Agreement – By entering, Innovator agrees that: (i) all Submissions become Challenge Sponsor's property and will not be returned; and (ii) Challenge Sponsor and its licensees, successors and assignees have the right to use any and all Submissions, and the names, likenesses, voices and images of all persons appearing in the Submission, for future advertising, promotion and publicity in any manner and in any medium now known or hereafter devised throughout the world in perpetuity.
All Intellectual property rights, if any, in the idea, concept, or activities demonstrated by the Submission will remain with the Innovator. The Innovator retains ownership of the Submission.