Please note that all submitters must hold valid US citizenship.
The 2020 Presidential Election has been remarkable in many ways. One of the most significant things about this election is that it enjoyed the highest level of voter participation since the 1908 election, with nearly two-thirds of eligible Americans exercising their right to vote. This level of voter engagement is fantastic. Several factors contributed to this level of voter turnout, key among them is that presidential elections always have higher voter participation rates than local elections.
The Jack Brooks Foundation (JBF) wants every election - including presidential, state, and local - to have high levels of voter participation and engagement. JBF is sponsoring the Help America Vote Challenge to gather your non-partisan ideas for how to improve voter turnout. We aspire to have the voter turnout in the 2020 election represent the new baseline. Whether you have ideas about how to improve physical accessibility, overcome different barriers to voting, streamline the voter registration process, or any other aspect of improving voter participation rates, we would like to hear from you.
We’ve just experienced a historic election. How can we maintain, and even build, on this momentum so that every election has a similar level of engagement? Did you see or experience something that could be implemented more broadly, changed, or improved upon to sustain these voter participation rates? JBF wants more Americans to exercise their constitutional right to vote. If you are a US citizen and you have an idea to improve voter participation - regardless of your political affiliation, we invite you to be heard.
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:
Gender - Women tend to vote more often than men
Age - Older individuals tend to vote more often than younger ones
Education - Individuals with a college degree tend to vote more often than those without a degree
Socioeconomic status - White-collar workers tend to vote more often than blue-collar workers
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:
Efforts to reduce wait times at polling stations
Advanced voting technologies
Improved ballot communication approaches
Streamlined voter registration processes
Voter registration drives based on social sciences
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:
Identification of the obstacle to voter participation and how the proposed approach will reduce or eliminate it
Discussion of the group affected by the obstacle and a description of how the proposed approach will impact that group
A description of the process to implement the proposed approach
A timeline for deployment (if the proposed approach is not already in use)
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 - March 12, 2021, 5pm EST
Judging - March 13, 2021 to April 9, 2021
Winners Announced - April 21, 2021
How do I win?
To be eligible for an award, your proposal must, at a minimum:
Satisfy the Judging Scorecard requirements
Thoughtfully address the Submission Form questions
Be non-partisan in nature and in scope. Any proposal which favors a particular political party will be excluded from consideration in this challenge.
Be submitted by a citizen of the United States of America
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?
How creative is the proposed approach? Does it represent a new approach or one not widely used currently?
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.
Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the HeroX.com website, on or before 5:00pm EST on March 12, 2021. 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.
By participating in the challenge, each competitor agrees to submit only their original idea. Any indication of "copying" amongst competitors is grounds for disqualification.
All applications will go through a process of due diligence; any application found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically disqualified.
All ineligible applicants will be automatically removed from the competition with no recourse or reimbursement.
No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the competition.
There are only TWO WEEKS left to submit your solution for the Help America Vote Challenge. The early bird definitely gets the worm - so don't put it off! Be sure to have at least 75% of your submission complete a full week before the deadline for maximum flexibility. We'd hate to think you worked hard on a submission, just to miss the deadline by a hair (that's right - no late-night, sad email exceptions - the cut-off is real, folks!)
All that aside, thanks so much to all of you for your interest. Crowdsourcing is nothing without the crowd, and well, that's you. Yeah, you.
We can't wait to see what the winning solution looks like.
HeroX -Why is this challenge so important to the Jack Brooks Foundation?
JBF - We established The Jack Brooks Foundation to empower and motivate the American electorate to take part in The Voting Process by offering independent and nonpartisan initiatives. A critical element of our mission is to increase the number of voters casting votes in every election. The Help America Vote Challenge is designed to allow us to directly engage with individuals interested in removing the barriers to vote.
HeroX - Why is this the right time for this challenge?
JBF - There is never a bad time to consider the ways to improve our democracy. As JBF was preparing to launch the Challenge, we noticed the social and political groundswell of activities were beginning to take shape and form larger movements. It became apparent to our team that the 2020 election cycle presented a perfect opportunity to analyze voter participation in the U.S. and crowdsource solutions that could improve turnout not only during a presidential election, but also in every federal, state and local election moving forward.
HeroX - How did the 2020 Presidential election change the landscape for this challenge?
JBF - Our goal is to reach 100% participation from eligible voters in every U.S. election. In the 2020 presidential election, the U.S. inched a bit closer to that lofty goal with 65% voter turnout - the highest participation in more than a century. Independent of their political views, citizens likely have valuable feedback about their individual voting experiences. Given the increased number of people who voted in the past year, we wanted to take advantage of this renewed interest in government and politics.
HeroX - Why are you looking to crowdsourcing to find solutions to the issue of low voter turnout?
JBF - Since many people choose NOT to vote in the U.S., we want to reach out to the community and hear their stories on why they don’t participate in elections. Voting is personal. The experience that an individual has during The Voting Process can determine whether they show up to cast a ballot or not. In order to solve the issue of low voter participation, we felt it was necessary to better understand the barriers people encounter and explore potential solutions as we try to solve these challenges together.
HeroX - What advice do you have to potential competitors?
JBF - Get creative! We are looking for well thought-out, compelling concepts that are nonpartisan and can really move the needle and improve The Voting Process. Think about it from a personal perspective. The individuals or groups submitting ideas may choose to tackle an obstacle they directly experienced this past year and then devise an approach to reduce or eliminate it. Given the number of factors that can influence someone’s path to the ballot box – geography, transportation, registration, and voting machinery to name a few – there can be hundreds of solutions to consider.
HeroX - Is the Jack Brooks Foundation working on other projects to increase voter participation in the United States?
JBF - The Help America Vote Challenge is JBF’s main initiative to explore solutions that will improve voter turnout in U.S. elections. We are also accepting nominations for a Leadership Award that recognizes nonpartisan efforts leaders took during the 2020 election cycle to ensure that all eligible Americans have a clear path to vote. In all of our programs, we will continue to engage people throughout The Voting Process, and ultimately, we aim to inspire them to vote.
The Jack Brooks Foundation would like to invite the Help America Vote Challenge community to submit a nomination for the first annual JBF Leadership Award. This award recognizes elected public officials and organizational leaders who elevated the needs of voters ahead of partisan politics to make it easier for citizens to cast ballots in 2020.
In order to be eligible for the JBF Leadership Award, nominees must be a living USA federal, state, or local government official OR leaders of nonprofit organizations that have demonstrated nonpartisan leadership aimed at improving The Voting Process for the people they serve.
The Jack Brooks Foundation is excited to see the record-breaking early-voting rates happening in the current US presidential election. We recognize that organizations and individuals passionate about voting like we are have been focused on efforts to get people to the polls over the last few weeks.
Given this, we have decided to extend the submission deadline for the Help America Vote Challenge to March 12th, 2021 5:00pm EST, in order to give you time to focus on getting your friends, family, and community to the polls on November 3rd.
We hope that reflecting on your voting experience and that of others within your community will help to inspire new ideas to contribute to this challenge.
We look forward to seeing your submissions! Happy voting!
Have you thought about forming a team to compete in the Help America Vote Challenge?
Teams can be formed directly on the challenge page by connecting in the forum.
Some of the advantages of forming a team include:
Those deadlines are less likely to get away from you when you’re working with a group.
2. Shared workload
You know the old “divide and conquer?” It works well for challenges! By finding a solid collaborative stride, a group of just three people can churn out a lot more than one person working alone.
It might be hard for other people to relate to your lone wolf journey toward incentive competition conquest, but your team will be right there with you! A source of inspiration, motivation, and perhaps even fire-under-your-butt lighting, teammates can provide a huge emotional advantage. Just think - new internet friends!
Maybe you’re a real visionary with an incredible concept, but are stuck on how the “nuts and bolts” fit together? Yeah, YOU need a team. Teammates who have the skills and special working knowledge can be a huge resource. And the benefits go both ways!
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your team will take some time to come together, so be sure to get ahead of it and start recruiting, reaching out, and networking about the challenge now. The forum is a great place to start. Also, feel free to browse the entire HeroX Community by specialization by checking out https://herox.com/crowdsourcing-community.