UT-Created Voting App BeVote Helps Educate Students

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AUSTIN, Texas — Students at The University of Texas at Austin have a new tool to help them become better informed as voters.

BeVote is a free cellphone app designed exclusively for UT students that provides accurate, nonpartisan information not only to enhance the voting experience but actively inform university students to become voters.

The iOS version is available at the Apple App Store, and the Android version is scheduled for release on Friday, Nov. 2.

BeVote brings information to students’ fingertips, such as:

  • Candidates and propositions
  • Custom, downloadable ballots
  • Push notifications for early and Election Day voting
  • Map of Travis County polling stations for early and Election Day voting, with wait times
  • Social media links   

It was an old-fashioned phone call that led to this Digital Age innovation that could inspire the next generation of voters.

Last spring, Hannah Wojciehowski, a professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts, and Paul Toprac of the College of Natural Sciences dialed Susan Nold, director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, to brainstorm possibilities to help engage college students in the voting process.

That conversation sparked a cross-campus collaboration that has produced the free cellphone app.  

“We worked to make something that was functional and helpful to students,” said Toprac, an associate professor of instruction in the Department of Computer Science. “After the election, we will continue to develop it and hopefully make it even bigger and better for the future.

After the initial brainstorming session, Toprac worked with Kassie Barroquillo of the Strauss Institute to understand what research and data indicated about why students were not voting. The team also used a bottom-up approach, talking to students directly on campus.

With user information in hand, Toprac enlisted a group of students to work on design and programming.

School of Information graduate student Mona Mishra and Kathy Vong from the College of Fine Arts sketched out the app’s design. Computer science students Morgan Lawless and Robert McInvale engineered the programming.

BeVote is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts, the SAGA Lab, the Moody College of Communication, the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, University of Texas Libraries, the Cockrell School of Engineering, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, TX Votes and UT Student Government.

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