Access the Polls

Access the Polls is an app focusing on a community approach to voting inaccessibility.

Photo of Andrea
6 8

Written by

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth


Help us stay in touch!

404.490.7277 Georgia: Douglasville (30135)

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

IG & Twitter: @aerdnamanning

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Voting is inaccessible to working class, disabled, and minority communities. This inaccessibility manifests in many different ways--from non-ADA compliant polling centers to voting times cutting into the workday. Because of this, valuable populations are missed when it comes time to head to the polls.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Access the Polls is looking to change this through community support and interdependency. Access the Polls would be an app that anyone can register for to lend a hand to their community in order to help bring everyone to the polls. The way it would work is that anyone can volunteer to help make voting accessible. For some, this may look like translating voting materials into more accessible terms or a different language. For others it may look like offering free rides to the polls or donating to help a parent afford childcare so that they can vote after work without worrying about picking up their kids. There is no limit on the ways in which the community can engage and empower each other!

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I realized how inaccessible voting was through engaging with working class and disabled folks who shared their stories with me. Then, during the midterm elections, I had my own bout of inaccessibility. As a college student living 2 hours away from home without a car, I was unable to go home during the week to vote and had not successfully changed my polling place to one close to campus. Additionally, I was inundated with texts from friends trying to figure out whether their absentee ballot was going to be counted and if not, trying to coordinate an impromptu trip to Atlanta to go vote. All of this contributed to my conviction that voting need to be more accessible.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

I am stepping up to make change because I can no longer wait for anyone else to do it. In the many conversations had surrounding voting, I don’t often hear one addressing accessibility head on. But we all need access to the polls. It is our lives on the lines, therefore our votes should be cast. I am stepping up to make sure that my community can step up. Whether working class, a person of color, disabled, in college, or the likes, I want to ensure that we all have the ability to make our voices

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

The plan is for there to be two options for engagement, as a contributor or an accessor--neither would be mutually exclusive. If contributing, one would offer their services to the community, be it driving to the polls, donating to families, translating material or anything else deemed to increase accessibility. If accessing, one could browse the contributions listed and connect with a contributor or request someone fulfill a need of theirs. After signing up in the app, offering and/or receiving services, we would track the engagement and report on how many folks helped make the polls accessible!

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

This project is radically different from most programs out there because it focuses on a community based solution to voter turnout issues. In recognition of the fact that accessibility largely affects voter turnout, we’re looking to flip the script and engage the community. Yes, we could pursue legislation to make voting more accessible, but that would take time--and we don’t have time. Additionally, this app will connect people across states and across the country and build interdependent, intergenerational community support.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

This project is still in the idea stage; however, I foresee it making a difference to thousands of people who would have otherwise been unable to vote. The goal is for it to not be confined by local or state lines, but to be available nationwide and for many people to be impacted. I know this is possible because on my college campus, I’ve started two group chats which combined reach almost 3,000 people across my campus and help to provide access to free food in the area as well as rideshares from our college town to Atlanta (respectively). These are only local, community initiatives. I can only imagine the reach that a national community initiative would have.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

I’m not a coder, but I need to find one ASAP. Additionally, once the app is made, we can begin campaigning for it’s release on social media and in the press. This will increase the app’s visibility and with election talk constantly in the news, I believe it will receive a positive reaction.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Web/Mobile Development

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Other

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Young People 4 (YP4)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tia Johnston Brown

I love this. Since building an app takes money and then you need to get people to use it, maybe you should consider starting in your local community to organize more traditionally? Just get your feet wet and get things moving! Take small steps and build up to this bigger vision.

Photo of Andrea

I completely agree! Thanks so much for the feedback!

View all comments