Bringing the Frictionless Experience that Consumers Expect to the Election Processes
Orlando, FL – Public trust and confidence in elections form the basis of a healthy election system and, ultimately, a healthy democracy. That trust is largely influenced by individual voter experiences. Yet, that experience – how we register to vote, access information about elections, and cast our ballots – hasn’t changed much over the decades and lags far behind technological advancements. Today, mobile applications have completely revolutionized how we do just about everything – traveling, banking, shopping, and networking – but not voting.
To change that, Civix is bringing the frictionless experience that consumers expect to election processes with its new Intelligent Voter Information System (IVIS).
“IVIS is centered around empowering the citizen experience,” said Mike Wons, president of Civix Government, the leading provider of innovative software solutions to secretaries of state and local election officials, including the technology that managed 45 million voters in the 2020 General Election.
Everything a Voter Needs
“Simple, modern, and secure, IVIS is unlike anything else,” he said. “It creates a new digital environment with virtually everything a voter needs.”
The native application allows people to control their voting experiences right in the palm of their hands – from registration to casting ballots to viewing real-time results.
Through IVIS, all of a state’s internal election management systems seamlessly come together in an external-facing app. It’s a one-stop shop for citizens through the entire spectrum of their voter experience. Highly interactive, IVIS guides constituents through every voter process, and it is customized to each individual, providing the most current, relevant information.
“It’s white glove treatment for voters. Everything is in one place,” Wons continued. “The future is about a frictionless experience, meaning a voter can log in using their personally identifying information via techniques including biometrics, click to see what is on their ballot, click through to learn about candidates and ballot measures, click through to see campaign finance reports, and so on. It’s self-guided and seamless because the back end is so well integrated.”
Wons attributes the app’s game-changing functionality to a methodology called ‘Working Backwards.’ Adopting this approach, he and his team relied on direct client and consumer experiences to drive design and development.
“We built IVIS starting with the voter and working backwards from there. The result is an engaging, highly intuitive tool that facilitates a citizen-led experience,” said Civix Director of Products Thelma Van. “In GovTech, the focus has been on UX/UI, but heightened approach also focuses on CX, which considers the customer’s entire experience with the state.”
To develop the CX, Civix partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and several election official clients to convene workshops that mapped out citizen experiences.
“One of the benefits of working with leading election officials in states across the country is that we’re able to tap into a broad network and serve as a nexus for problem solving, lessons learned, and best practices,” said Wons, a GovTech veteran who served as the first statewide CTO for the State of Illinois prior to joining Civix. “And AWS adds yet another layer of client experience expertise, thought leadership, and, of course, security.”
Civix offers its technology products on AWS GovCloud (US). This group of Amazon cloud regions is designed to host sensitive data, regulated workloads, and address the most stringent U.S. government security and compliance requirements. IVIS will run natively in the cloud, resulting in the industry’s first solution of its kind.
With this highly secure cloud solution, Civix adopted a mobile-first approach, meaning they designed and developed IVIS’s online experience for mobile devices before designing for desktops or any other device.
“Simply put, mobile-first design allows us to reach more voters,” said Van.
Smartphones are ubiquitous in households across the U.S., and with fewer options for online access, Americans with lower incomes rely more on their smartphones for tasks traditionally reserved for larger screens, according to a Pew Research Center analysis published in June.
Furthermore, IVIS meets and exceeds state and federal accessibility requirements to help improve voter participation among people with disabilities. This focus on accessibility is detailed in a new white paper co-authored by Wons and Van.
Similarly, IVIS has a multi-language function to meet federal, state, and local language accessibility requirements and to better serve language minority voters.
Another group IVIS is aimed at engaging is young voters. This tech-savvy generation is used to simple, modern technology, and when they don’t see it in their election tech, they’re turned off. IVIS solves for this with seamless functionality and a contemporary design aesthetic.
IVIS’s user interface mirrors tech industry best practices, so it will feel familiar to younger audiences who spend much of their time online. As younger generations are becoming more socially engaged, IVIS’s features tap into that to get young people involved in the election process, like volunteering to work the polls.
Personalized, Self-Guided Experience
While the mobile app increases accessibility, IVIS also provides an unprecedented level of personalization and self-service.
When a user is logged in and authenticated, the app automatically tailors content to the individual. A voter doesn’t need to research and enter data to get to desired information and take action; the user-centric app serves it up to them. IVIS proactively answers common voter questions, showing each voter when she can vote, her registration status, what’s on her ballot, and so much more.
Through integrated GIS, the system automatically pinpoints a voter’s registered location, assigning them to the proper precinct. With this, IVIS can provide information on a voter’s specific ballot as well as directions on how to get to their polling place from their current location.
Even with all this customized, accessible information, voters can ask questions with voice commands to activate IVIS’s speech recognition engine, which functions just like Alexa and Siri, Amazon and Apple’s digital voice assistants. Voters can ask questions – such as, “what’s the status of my absentee ballot?” “when does my polling place close?” “What amendments are on my ballot?” – and automatically get answers, saving election office time and resources.
Ease of use, accessibility, mobile-first – IVIS was created to power citizen engagement. Of course, key to engagement is accessible information and communication between citizens and election officials. IVIS powers real-time and proactive communication through push notifications, text messages, automated emails, voice assist, and messaging bots backed by machine learning.
“Imagine a pipe bursts or a power outage in a polling place on election day and the cascade of problems that would follow,” said Van. “In this scenario with IVIS, voters would receive instant notifications letting them know that their usual polling place is closed, where to vote instead, the hours of operation, and a link to get driving directions from their current location.”
“Real time communication helps manage voter expectations, eases concerns, and builds confidence in the entire process,” she said.
Beyond these reactive notifications, IVIS engages citizens proactively throughout the year.
“This isn’t a one-time app that a person only checks on election day,” she said. “IVIS can be configured to send notifications for important deadlines, such as the last day to register to vote early and to let someone know their ID is set to expire; to educate, such as ‘what to expect on this fall’s ballot’; and to engage, such as ‘your precinct needs poll workers, want to volunteer?’”
IVIS is also a resource for first-time and chronic voters alike. It is capable of hosting accessible information, such as video content and infographics, to meet voters where they are with the information that is relevant to them.
Source of Truth
Along this same vein, Wons says IVIS can be established as the source of truth when it comes to elections.
“Misinformation is top of mind and a mounting concern for election officials, and the power of IVIS can be brought to bear in this ongoing fight,” Wons said.
IVIS makes accurate information accessible, and it allows regular communication with voters. The app can be branded for any state office, further reinforcing authority and building confidence.
Authentication & Security
Baked into IVIS is identity assurance and a robust authentication program. Similar to popular secure banking apps, it also allows for facial recognition to make re-entry into the system easy for users. And states can have the assurance that the people who are registering to vote are who they say they are.
IVIS is also highly secure. In addition to being hosted on AWS GovCloud (US), Civix layers on its 360 Degree Security approach.
“We’re removing all the barriers inherent in current voter engagement technologies, but security remains our top priority,” said Wons. “Our goal is to enable safe, secure and transparent elections, and we’re excited to offer states a solution that meets their stringent election requirements and the growing demands of their constituents.”