City commissioner hopes app designed to ease voting will draw young voters

Shara Dae Howard
February 10, 2020 - 12:58 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A mobile app that would provide critical information to young Philadelphia voters about the process of voting is in the works.

Newly elected City Commissioner Omar Sabir, who is leading the build and launch process, believes an app that would make voting easier is exactly what Philadelphia needs to bring voters ages 18 to 26 out to the polls. 

"Voters, people 50 and up, vote more, and we want to engage younger people, so they can have access to our election process," he said.

Contrary to popular belief, Sabir says the youth vote is increasing, albeit moderately. 

"Voters 18 to 34, turnout did increase about 58% in the 2019 general election. So they are coming out more," he said.

And now, he wants to transform that slow crawl into a tidal wave in upcoming elections.

At the Jan. 8 City Commissioners' Sunshine Meeting, Sabir made a motion to create the app. Now he says they're working on the procurement process, allowing the public to submit suggestions to the Commissioner's Office about what features the app should include.

"We want suggestions about what you want to see in this mobile app," he said. "So if we do it together it will build excitement."

Suggestions can be emailed to Sabir's office manager at jenne.ayers@phila.gov.

Sabir said some of the features are already known: "You'll be able to find out what your polling place is. You'll be able to send Uber or Lyft rides to people who need transportation. You'll be able to check your registation."

The app is in the early planning stage and does not yet have a name. Sabir said he expects to launch it in time for the April primary.