Technology and Integrated Voter Engagement Work

Technology is not the most important factor in a successful voter project — the vision and effectiveness of your organization are more important — but you can't scale up your efforts without mastering the underlying technological requirements.

Technology can be very useful in organizing. It's a great means of communication. With text messaging cell phones more and more commonplace, it creates a new easy way to reach a lot of people quickly. It's great at keeping track of things. Most organizing groups have some type of minimal database. Unfortunately, technology is more often an obstacle for groups organizing in low income communities and communities of color. Our communities are often the last to get the training needed to master it. This becomes a critical problem when community organizing groups start to work on initiative campaigns or voter registration projects.

Progressive Technology Project has designed this site to help organizing groups overcome this obstacle. This site give you an overview of what technology tools are typically available to most organizing groups; how you might use the voter files that are available to you; and, most importantly, how to think about building infrastructure for integrating your voter work with your ongoing organizing work.

ALLERT uses PDAs equipped with barcode scanners to quickly record volunteer activityBecause of the diversity of groups and software that exist in the community organizing world, the site can't go into great detail of specific technology solutions. Working through the technology section you'll get an overview of what you need to do. If you're a technical person, you'll get a roadmap for finding or building the hardware and software platforms that your organization needs.

This field is in a period of rapid development, so the technology options that we write about today may be very different on the day that you come across this site. What won't change is the need to think creatively on how to find low cost solutions that will allow your organization to build relationships with people in your community and track them over time with computer systems.

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The most important test of technology is that it allows organizers to spend more time with people face-to-face, Anthony Thigpenn says

Anthony Thigpenn: the role of technology