OK, what do National Voter Registration Day and boxing movies starring Sly Stallone have in common?

Rocky.  (Actually, Reggie too, but first things first!)

That’s right. Rocky, besides being the name of six Sylvester Stallone movies, is also the name of online voter registration (OVR) software that the TrustTheVote Project develops and significantly extended for Rock The Vote as part of our 5-year old technology alliance.  To date, its estimated Rocky—the online vote registration software in various forms—has knocked out more than a million voter registrations in the United States since its inception several years ago.

NOTE:  if you are, or someone you know is thinking about registering to vote, today is the day to do so and you can easily do so through software TrustTheVote Project has made possible. Finish reading this posting about how we’re helping voter registration innovation later, and go here now to register to vote through Rock The Vote.

For our Stakeholders and elections officials: back to our story about how our open source OVR can help your jurisdiction today.

This open-source software itself is free; adapting it to your local needs is a snap and can be done for a fraction of the costs you might otherwise pay for a custom development... which is part of the whole point of our Project (but only part).  The TrustTheVote Project developed and provides this software as a public benefit for elections administrators and outside parties who register voters online.

Some back-story is in order.  You see, Rocky is the version for NGO registration services – such as those used by outside registrars led by Rock The Vote.  Rocky is derived from a component of the TrustTheVote Project elections technology Framework—a portfolio of integrated software components for elections administration and voting systems—called “Reggie” which is the online voter registration (“OVR”) system for states and counties.   

For instance, Reggie helps power the commonwealth of Virginia’s online voter registration system. If you’re a local election board or administrator, you can download the Reggie OVR software right now and adapt it for your locality’s needs. If you’re a group that wants to get more people registered to vote, you can download the Rocky software and adapt it so that people can come to your website to register to vote, or even better, work directly with Rock The Vote to roll your version even faster using their version of Rocky for 3rd party registrars.

A good place to jump start an OVR project is SupportTheVoter.gov, which is the website of the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration (the “PCEA”).  The Commission, which was set up to study problems at the polls, in one of four key recommendations in its final report, said that all states should move toward online voter registration. “The steady trend toward online voter registration should continue as every state should allow eligible citizens to register to vote and to update their registrations via the Internet,” the Commission wrote.

In the Election Tool Kit section of the Commission’s website, you can preview what the Reggie OVR system looks like, learn more about it, and download the source code, or a version that can power voter registration on your own public services website.  

We take no position on political questions about proper voter identification, or who should be allowed to register and/or vote and who should not. That’s for others. But we do believe, as John Sebes, our Chief Technology Officer, wrote in a 2012 blog post, that, “Every eligible citizen deserves and is entitled to access to elections. It is the duty of election officials to provide that access to the eligible citizens...and to fairly and expeditiously assess every request for eligibility.”

Election officials who are almost always underfunded, can get the Reggie OVR for free. They actually can “do more with less” using Reggie as part of their technology solution. In a modern online world in which we all use computers and smart phones as key components in their daily lives, TrustTheVote’s online voting registration software can play a key role in making sure that people are registered accurately and that everyone who is eligible to vote can register easily.

The open-source software that is Reggie is part of the TrustTheVote Project’s total growing portfolio of elections technology, which is being developed with input from election administrators around the country. This kind of open-source software puts innovation in the hands of elections officials that they otherwise might not be able to acquire.  As Chris Kelly, one of our board members, put it in a Huffington Post column recently: “Most websites in the world run on open source software, including the best-known mix of Linux as an operating system and Apache as web server. Open source is not free, but it does several important things. First, it makes the ownership of the technology public. Second, it removes the proprietary nature, making technology glass box rather than black box. Third, it dramatically reduces the total cost of ownership, placing real innovation within reach for those on restricted budgets.”

On National Voter Registration Day, the TrustTheVote Project is doing its part with Reggie and through Rock The Vote with Rocky.