Article by Tom Haxton
An Interview with the Jack Brooks Foundation
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.