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Election Innovation Challenge

On the heels of the November 8, 2016 election, students from across Southeast Pennsylvania are invited to submit their ideas for improving the election process or voter participation to the ELECTION INNOVATION CHALLENGE. This could include ideas to increase voter turnout, help inform voters about candidates or voter procedures, simplify the voting process or improve the voting experience.

Winning proposals are selected based on their clarity, potential impact, creativity and innovation, viable implementation and grounding in research. Each proposal receives written feedback from Seventy staff and interns. All participating students are invited to a VIP lunch with Seventy staff and behind-the-scenes tour of City Hall.

For more information, contact Patrick Christmas at pchristmas@seventy.org.


Guidelines of Participation:

Students may participate individually or in pairs. Proposals can be pitched in a variety of formats that include, but are not limited to: a written memo (2-3 pages); a video presentation (5 minutes); or a Prezi or Power Point that does not exceed 20 slides.

Committee of Seventy staff and interns will evaluate all submitted proposals according to five criteria, each weighted 20 points. Each participating student will receive written feedback; however, numerical scores will not be shared unless a teacher requests them for grading purposes. First, second and third place proposals will be determined by the numerical scoring system, with another two selected as honorable mentions.

Selection Criteria:

Clarity: Is the proposal articulated in a manner that others can understand? Can the selection committee clearly envision what the proposal would look like?

Potential Impact: How consequential or significant could the proposal be, if successful? Might it boost rates of voter registration or voter turnout? Is it likely to streamline the voting process or noticeably improve voters’ experience at polling places?

Creativity and Innovation: Is there an interesting and creative twist to the proposal? Is it a replication of another program or initiative being used elsewhere? If so, why would it be effective for your community? 

Implementation: How difficult would the proposal be to execute? Would high expense or over-sophistication be hindrances? With some work, could the proposal become real?

Research Support: What evidence supports the idea? Students are encouraged to use research from studies or media reports, personal observations from Election Day, or interviews with people in the community. Sources should be cited!

For students who submit proposals:

  • All five selected proposals (1st, 2nd, 3rd and two honorable mention) will receive recognition on Seventy’s website (30,000+ site visits per election), Facebook (4,000+) and Twitter (7,000+) accounts, and will be highlighted in a newsletter to Seventy’s 11,000+ email subscribers.
  • Barnes & Noble gift certificates will be awarded to the selected winners: 1st Place: $300; 2nd Place: $200; 3rd Place: $100; and Honorable Mentions: $50
  • All students will receive written feedback from Committee of Seventy staff on their ideas.
  • All students will be invited to a VIP lunch hosted at Committee of Seventy’s office in Center City, followed by a behind-the-scenes tour of City Hall.

2017 Project Timeline

  • May 16 – Election Day
  • June 2 – Proposals sent electronically to futureofthecity@seventy.org
  • June 9 – Committee of Seventy announces winning proposal and provides written feedback to all submissions
  • Date TBD – Committee of Seventy hosts Election Innovation Challenge and Election Ambassador participants for VIP lunch and behind-the-scenes tour of City Hall
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November 2016 Winners

Kimberly Barnes and Tajnia Hussain claimed the top prize for their online overview, The Big Impact, of how money influences elections and solutions that may mitigate the impact. In the second place, the Coding Politics memo written by Kate Kopf and Lyle Seitz explored how to update voting technology. The third-place proposal by Syeda Kalim examined voter turnout and offered various approaches to increase the number of people casting ballots. Honorable mention selections went to Philly Election Complaints, an online portal for reporting issues on Election Day, by Israh Mohammed and Tamir Harper, and to Fixing Election Day, by Ethan Halprin.

  • election innovation pic, april 2016
Spring 2016 Winners

Congratulations to Emma O'Neill-Dietel and Jenny Chan for their first-place proposal offering several ideas to enhance accessibility for voters with disablities including the optimization of voter information websites. Lila Vanni's second-place proposal that argued that 17-year-olds be allowed to participate in spring primaries to boost turnout among young voters in the fall general election. In third place, Angela Robinson's Youth Voting App idea explored the advantages of online voting via smart phone. An honorable mention selection, Angelina DeCarles & Cyanna Samuel's outlined the features and usefulness of a You Tube channel devoted entirely to voter info. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the participants for their ideas!

  • felons can vote ad election innovation challenge nov 2015
Fall 2015 Winners

Congratulations to the first-place selection, Disenfranchisement of Felons, by Imani, Katarina, Isabel and Kobe, from Science Leadership Academy! Seventy staff were impressed by the group's thoughtful and practical ideas to better engage ex-convicts in the voting process. Update: The students continued their project, producing PSAs on felon voting rights, reviewed for accuracy by Seventy staff: PSA 1 and PSA 2.

Honorable mention selections include a slate of strategies to reduce the effects of gerrymandering, by Siawale, Kia, Hanna  and Pedro; and a plan to monitor the influence of Super Pacs, submitted by Jahmar, Lewis, Michaela and Matthew.

Spring 2015 Winners

Proposals recognized in Spring 2015 included a plan to produce nonpartisan GOTV commercials, by Lauren T.; a set of ideas to boost millennial voter turnout, by Anna S.; and a menu of reforms to make voting easier, provided by Caitlin K. and Olivia M.

For more information about the Election Innovation Challenge, contact Patrick Christmas at pchristmas@seventy.org or 215-557-3600, ext. 114.