Welcome to Vote By Pal.

Vote By Pal is a tool that connects Americans who can vote but aren't interested with Americans who wish they could vote, but can't.
 
It's an experiment in power sharing, accountability, flexibility and combating the effects (both political and personal) of disenfranchisement. It's not about "maximizing turnout" or getting any one person or party into office.

It's very simple and not high tech at all.

Here's how it works:

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Fill out the simple form, specifying whether you're a registered voter or are unable to vote.

 

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You'll then be connected with a voting "pal." If you're registered to vote, you'll be connected to someone who can't vote. If you can't vote, you'll be connected with someone who can.
 

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Once you've been connected with your voting pal, the person who can't vote can tell the person who can vote who they would vote for if they could.

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The person who otherwise wouldn't vote can then choose to vote the suggestions of their pal. They are of course under no obligation to do so. That would be illegal.

Ready to Vote by Pal?

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Who is this for?

This project is targeting two kinds of people: Those who can vote but hadn't planned to, and those who can't.

There are many reasons people can't vote, and any of them are valid reasons to participate in this project: a criminal record that disenfranchises you, immigration status, age, lack of ID in a state with voter ID laws, &c. 

As for people who would otherwise not be voting, they may think their vote doesn't matter, they may disapprove of the parties or the candidates, they may think the whole system is so irredeemable that the most moral thing is to abstain, or they may simply not care enough to go through the rigamarole.

If you're on the fence about voting, or just kind of apathetic about it (like, "I know I should, but I don't know if I'll get around to it") you can think of signing up as a way to feel accountable, and to vote in a way that even if it doesn't feel personally meangingful to you, would feel tremendously meaningful to someone else.
 

Is this serious? What's the point?

Yes, it is serious. However, it is not about trying to "maximize turnout" or get any specific person or party into power. It is an earnest attempt at connecting people who have differing access to what I think should be a basic right.
 
I am more interested in building solidarity and connection between people, than I am interested in the electoral process itself.

No. There's a subversive provocation here, for sure. But I would say it's leveled just as much at the people in charge (or the system) as at a person who feels that the most righteous thing they can do re: voting is to abstain.

But aren't you basically just trying to trick people into voting?
 

Do you think this will actually change anything? Do you think that voting changes anything?
 
I know for a fact that when I put out my single-stream recycling every week, it just goes to a landfill. But I still recycle religiously. Maybe that's stupid, but the alternative feels so nihilistic that I can't bear it. Meanwhile, I still do my best to reduce what even goes into the recycling bin, since that is obviously more effective at reducing waste. The point of that imperfect metaphor is that I think at this point, why not just try a thing? Subjecting every individual action to the vague "does it actually work" critique often serves to mostly just express our own individual hopelessness and justify continuing to do nothing. And I think if we keep doing that, rather than creating a dialectic/action-plan, we are pretty fucked.  

Obviously, if this project has any effect on the 2020 elections, it will be negligible. That's not really the point. Much more than electoral politics, I'm interested in creating connections and conversations, and discovering ways that stalwartness and flexibility can meet each other. I'm interested in the complex places where efficacy is more nuanced than something that can be counted and tallied. I'm interested in creating the circumstances for people to do something they wouldn't otherwise do.

Also, big fan of the butterfly effect.

How much am I supposed to communicate with my "pal?"

 

Totally up to you! You might want to keep it to a brief text exchange where one person simply names the candidate they like. Or, you might want to get to know each other and have a more involved correspondence. The structure, like all human relationships, is fluid and depends on where you're both at.

Do you think it's unethical for someone to weigh in on which candidate for senate a person should vote for if they don't live in the same state?

Nope. The senate makes determinations that affect the whole country. And also, that's kind of the least of it.

Does this cost money?

Vote By Pal is free to use. It is an art project.

I want to vote for a third party candidate.
That's not a question. Do what you want.

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