Reprinted from Forbes.com, Oct 9, 2016
By Brian Rashid , Contributor
This is breaking news, or should I say, “braking” news.
If you are in many parts of America, you can get a ride to the polls.
This ride will be round-trip.
This ride will be free.
This ride will be provided by 100% volunteer drivers and is women inspired.
This ride could change the future of the America you live in.
Nicole Wild Merl and Thomas Cook are the cofounders of WomenVotes. The initiative, which was first ever virtual co-op authorized by Northeastern University College of Professional Studies, has turned into a national movement. WomenVotes was officially launched in 2016 with the support of Washington Media Institute under the leadership of Amos Gelb to 10 participant millennial consultants from colleges across the United States to gain their perspectives and assistance. Today, all now serve as WomenVotes founding Millennial Advisory Board along with some talented Northeastern University students.
Initially, WomenVotes set out to create real-time, non-partisan Twitter conversations. Through the combination of twitter and their blog, there would be a place for women everywhere to share their thoughts about the important issues in the upcoming election, regardless of party lines. The mission statement was simple. WomenVotes empowers women to vote and run for elected office. As their users started engaging more with each other, and using the hashtag #Election2016, Nicole and Thomas realized a huge opportunity to embrace empowerment and grow their initiative.
This was the birth of Carpool2Vote.
Carpool2Vote is the first ever volunteer based app that provides free rides to the polls for people all across America. I have heard that women created the idea of carpooling, so it is fitting and appropriate this idea comes full circle where women are now driving voters to the polls across the country. Even the major ridesharing platforms are not offering such a service. Yes, they offer vouchers and gift certificates, but only one-way, and only to new users. Carpool2Vote, on the other hand, offers free rides to anyone who signs up. No credit redemptions. No stress about whether or not you are a first time user. Free for everyone.
This app has stirred up a lot of excitement among major supporters. Hundreds of thousands of women members are coming together to make sure that individuals have a free app to get you to the polls to vote. Influential followers on twitter include: Ellevate Network, National Association for Female Executives, Working Mother, and the Internet of Women community, led by Monique Morrow, are supporting Women Votes on this initiative. This is just the beginning of the potential possible.
“We are excited and delighted that we will be able to reach out to hundreds of thousands of Deca’s students, teachers, and parents across America to build awareness and social responsibility in the next generation of leaders,” Nicole and Thomas told me.
A call to action is now in progress to recruit drivers from around the country. The call to action is asking people to volunteer to drive as well as for individuals to sign up now to carpool to vote. Since this is a volunteer-based initiative created and developed in America, the more drivers that exist, the more people can get to the polls. To further spread the word, Women Votes is thrilled that Carpool2Vote is being promoted by AMC Networks Inc. AMC Networks Inc will support outreach and inspire civic engagement through online support on its corporate website and network websites. AMC Networks Inc. owns and operates several of the most popular and award-winning brands in cable television such as AMC, BBC AMERICA, IFC, SundanceTV, and WE tv.
The app was designed by Justin Insalaco, the CEO of 3BDreams, with the help of his team including Chief Architect, Matt Young.
“When we heard about the opportunity to develop a rideshare application to get people to the polls, I was ecstatic to help. The user experience is very simple by nature so everyone can navigate it to enhance the number of people that can get to the polls,” Insalaco told me.
The app is now live and can be downloaded in the App Store (Carpool2Vote). In just a few steps, you can create a profile as either a driver or user. The team also took a thoughtful approach to the safety and accuracy of the app. It ensures the rider is getting in the correct vehicle driven by the correct driver through a very simple authentication solution that’s similar to the way warehouses work. Each driver will be issued a unique barcode based on their license plate and driver’s license. When the driver’s car arrives, that barcode will be displayed on the driver’s phone, and the rider can quickly take a picture of the driver’s barcode to ensure they are getting into the right vehicle. If the driver is who they should be, the passenger will receive a confirmation sound (beep) and vibration after they “scan.” If the driver is not correct, there will be an alert on the passenger’s phone. This feature is not present in either Lyft or Uber today, and will help reduce passenger risk on election day.
Every time I open my phone or turn on a TV, I see something about the election. A new finding, a hot topic, opinions about the candidates. And then I wonder, “how many people are doing something about the general public’s ability to influence these stories?”
Nicole, Thomas, and WomenVotes answered that question for me. They showed me how a small group of committed people can make a ripple in the next month. In the next decade. In the next century.
They show us that whether you are Democrat, Republican, or Independent, change is possible.
And that change is not limited to an office in Washington DC.
We can do it from the palm of their hands.
Or maybe, the back seat of our cars.
Brian Rashid is a professional speaker and writer. Visit him at brianrashid.com or say “HI” at firstname.lastname@example.org