Frequently Asked Questions

HOW IT WORKS

Who can create a team? Anyone who wants to make sure they and their friends follow through with voting. You care about civic participation and political outcomes. But you also know that sometimes life gets busy. Or you miss a deadline. Or feel uninformed. Or you're registered in another state and totally forgot. You want to stay on top of what needs to get done, and make sure friends do too. Plus the chance to win prizes!

How do I create a team? To make a team for the June 26 NY primary, fill out this quick form. You need a credit card handy (read below for why) and it takes less than 5 minutes. For other state primaries, find your form here

How do I join a team? Your Team Lead sent you a link. Just select your team name from the drop down list, and you make your pledge. Can't find the link? Use this sign-up form.

Is there a minimum and maximum team size? Yes! There’s a minimum of three players (a team leader, plus two more) and a maximum of ten people per team.

I want to be on a team! But what do I actually do? The must-do's are voting (that's the whole point!) and verifying with us. We also suggest checking your emails and texts occasionally: we send along reminders and tips for getting ready and informed. Check in with your teammates to make sure you're all on track. Along the way, earn rewards for actions like making a voting plan, recruiting more friends, and sharing reminders. 

Rewards! Like what? For our the June 26 NY Primary, players get a $5 Amazon gift card for submitting their voting plan to us. We also raffle off weekly prizes leading up to Election Day. Team Leads earn a $10 bonus for building a team of 2+ players. In future pilots, you'll earn points that translate into prizes for a wide array of actions like researching issues, attending events, and volunteering. 

How do I verify that I’ve voted? Fun fact: Whether or not a person votes is public record. But we’re asking you to verify that you’ve voted by sending us a selfie with your “I Voted” sticker or ballot receipt outside of the polling place. If you vote by mail, you'll send us a picture of that instead. We provide a simple form for submitting your verification when the time comes. 

Can you explain the money thing? Can you explain the money piece? Research shows that having financial skin in the game makes us more likely to follow through. So we ask you to put money on the line. You make a pledge, but we won’t charge you if you, and everyone on your team, verifies that they voted. If one person on the team doesn't vote, all your cards are charged. You and your teammates are financially and socially accountable for not letting each other down.

Why do I need a credit card? We take your credit card information securely through Stripe, an online payment processing tool, and do not charge until after the verification period (3 days after the polls close.)

How much do I pledge? Any amount that is personally meaningful to you.

Your form says, "Recurs monthly starting June 29, 2018 for 1 period." Huh? That’s just a complicated way of saying we’ll charge you just once for your pledge—ONLY if you or a team member don’t vote.

What happens to the money if someone doesn't vote? motivote reinvests it into our turnout efforts, including expanding our pilots to additional states and scaling our technology. We are also donating a percentage of forfeited deposits to a non-partisan voting rights organization. For the New York primary, that's Let NY Vote.

 

TEAM LEADS

What's the time commitment? You're busy. We get it. So we do all the heavy lifting. Creating a team takes less than 5 minutes (unless you really struggle to come up with a team name). Then you'll get a link and language to forward to friends, who may need a few nudges. No offline action required (except when it comes to voting itself.)

We take it from there. We give you weekly updates you can pass on to your team, plus optional actions for extra points, like posting to social media. On Election Day, you'll help make sure your team members turn out and submit their verification.

Who can be on my team? Team members must be eligible to vote in the specified election. They must be registered to vote per the state registration deadline. For the primaries this summer, your team members must be voting in the same state as you so that you can vote and verify on the same day. For the midterms, you can form a team with any eligible voter across the country because all states are voting on the same day.

 

GENERAL

Why does this matter? Unequal representation means unequal influence. While we can provide an entire syllabus on the importance of voting, we want to highlight why voting in the primaries counts. 

Take New York as an example:

  • New York House districts are SO uncompetitive that 90 percent are determined in the primary election. By the time the general election comes around, most races have already been decided.
  • Young people are particularly bad at turning out to vote in off-year elections. Over half (51.1%) of newly registered voters in 2017 were under the age of 30. However, only 13.4% of registered voters under 30 cast a ballot in 2017. Elected officials have NO incentive to respond to the policy priorities of young people if they can’t count on their votes.
  • New York comes in 41st among states in voter turnout. Low voter turnout can produce entrenched, unresponsive elected officials who are more beholden to their financial supporters than the electorate. 

 

OK, voting is important. But how does this help me? Our interviews with hundreds of voters surfaced a common thread: People express a desire to vote and articulate the value of doing so, but when Election Day comes, sometimes “microbarriers” get in the way. Things like getting held up at work, missing a registration deadline, feeling uninformed about the candidates, giving up because a line was too long, and so on.

We feel a little frustrated with friends when they don't follow through, and a little guilty when it's us who dropped the ball. (Hey, we've been there.) 

Like going to the gym or doing your laundry, voting is one of those things that feels easier to plan than actually do when the time comes and other parts of life get in the way. 

We bridge the gap between intention and action, applying research-backed principles that help people hold themselves accountable to goals in other areas of life, like losing weight.  In short: You don’t want to let down your friends or lose money, so you’re more likely to do it. We make it fun and social. Plus, prizes!

 

Ooh, research-backed principles! Tell me more! motivote combines loss aversion and social influence to ensure that people take the steps to overcome these microbarriers and follow through voting. In the behavioral economics literature, this is called a commitment device: "an arrangement entered into by an individual with the aim of helping fulfill a plan for future behavior."

Commitment devices help us overcome a number of cognitive biases. Humans face present bias, meaning we often overvalue immediate rewards at the expense of long-term goals.  ("My diet starts Monday.") We also overestimate our likelihood of completing desirable behaviors. 

And we know this works in practice. In an NYU pilot, we increased voter turnout by 168% year-over-year.