Mobile GOTV


I had a brainstorm this morning. I want to create a website called "" where you can sign up yourself and your friends to receive an SMS text message on voting day reminding you to vote for Kerry and other Democrats. Think of it as an automated mobile Get Out the Vote. But I definitely would need some sort of help and funding to do it.

Rock the Vote Mobile has something like this, but I didn't know about it until I went searching for it and it's promoting just voting, not voting Democratic. Most importantly, it's just for you - you can't sign up your friends (i.e. it's not viral). There's also the Mobile Voter Project which has some nice stats of mobie subscribers broken down by state, but it's also bipartisan and doesn't give any indication about how many people have signed up, etc. I want to create a Democratic Mobile GOTV.

I'm imagining a simple site with text that said something like: "This site will only use these phone numbers to send two SMS text messages to your friends. The first will be to tell them that they have been added to the voting alert service, remind them to register, and asking them to add their friends as well, then they will get another message on Election Day reminding them to vote Democratic." Then you can enter in up to say a dozen phone numbers and there'll be a running tally of sign ups so we can all see the progress.

I don't want to just remind people to vote for Kerry - which will be in the news and relatively obvious - I want to use their area code to remind them to vote for their local Democrats as well by name. This would take some work over the next couple weeks, but I think it'd be a reasonable goal.

There's only 15 days to the election, so getting this 1) up and running and 2) get enough people to sign up to make it worth it is going to be tough. Though with some help from weblogs I might be able to get some critical mass, and honestly, I think even getting a few thousand people in the swing states to sign up would actually be worth it.

The number one problem in my mind is cost - I could get this running today from a technical perspective - but the cost to send each SMS message is around 12 cents which is very expensive. Simplewire does have a way of determining the carrier per phone number, so then I could format the messages as email instead, but as TxtMob found out, T-Mobile and probably others will reject messages as spam after a certain number of emails.

Maybe I could just throw a PayPal donate button on the page, but if I get say, 10,000 numbers and like $200 in donations, I'll be a bit screwed. But like I said, in an election this close, sending a few thousand alert reminders in a state like Florida out could possibly be a very good thing to do. I guess I could prioritize via state... Figure out how much money I have, and only send to the swing states first. You know, though, Rock The Vote says they have 1.3 million members... this might be a futile effort on my part compared to this and a waste of time/effort/money.

What do you think? Any thoughts? Any concerns? Am I dreaming? Am I missing a service that does this already? Anyone want to help me with this? I need 1) donations and 2) a list of Democrats organized by race/area code. If you want to help, send me an email, leave me a comment! Let's get this up and running ASAP.


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