Frequently Asked Questions
About The Game
So how does this work? When you sign up with motivote, you’re pledging that you intend to vote in an upcoming election. Friends form a team and commit to vote. Along the way, you compete and earn points that translate into real-life rewards for getting ready and informed. In some states, we add a layer of financial accountability to help you follow through on voting more effectively. If you’re in a state where we use this monetary model, you back up your intention to vote with a monetary pledge. Come election day, if everyone on your team verifies they voted, no one is charged. If even one team member doesn't vote, the pledges are forfeited.
Where does the money go if all team members don't vote? When your Team Lead creates the team, they select a 501c3 nonprofit that will receive your team's pledges if not all players vote. This nonprofit may reflect a cause that you and your friends support or a cause that you oppose — whichever the Team Lead believes is more motivational for their group of friends.
How do you manage my pledge? After you sign up for a team and select your pledge amount, you enter your credit card number into a securely encrypted, third-party payment processor. You have 48 hours after polls close to verify your vote with motivote (see more on that below) before your card is charged with the amount that you pledged. We will never charge your credit card before an election. All credit card info is saved securely, and deleted immediately after your participation in motivote wraps up, so you don’t need to worry that we hold on to your info long-term.
How do you know if I've voted? Whether or not an individual voted is actually public record, but it can take a few months for the voter rolls to be released. To speed up the process, we ask users to self-verify by taking a selfie outside of the voting booth with their “I voted” sticker (or voting receipt), and then send the photo to the motivote team. If a user votes absentee, we ask that they just a selfie holding the absentee ballot. Once you sign up for a team, we send you all the details you need to know about the process.
Rewards? Tell me more! We're all about celebrating the process of getting ready and informed. That's why we curate Actions like researching issues, attending events, and confirming your polling place details—which help you follow through with voting. Collective accountability will keep you on track.
When you do that, we say thanks to your your future self with points that translate into prizes. Prizes vary from election to election, but in the past we’ve given away coffee shop gift cards, credit to fitness classes, movie passes, and more. Beyond taking Actions, there are other ways to earn points as an individual or team. Keep up with your email and texts to stay up-to-date on ways to win. We’ll track your progress and send you regular updates. When everyone on your team votes and verifies, we celebrate you as motiWINNERS on our social media.
What if I'm not 18 yet? Or not registered for a party in a closed primary? Or not legally allowed to vote for any reason? If you're under 18, and excited enough about voting to be reading this, YOU'RE A STAR! You can sign up to start or join a team through our partner, YVote. If you're not eligible to vote for other reasons, you can still form a team and encourage your network to vote. Come election day, we'll set you up with a "replacement" Action that helps others vote.
I want to be on a team! But what do I actually do? The must-do's are voting (that's the whole point!) and verifying your vote with us. We also suggest checking your emails and texts from us: We send along reminders, tips, and challenges (and love to throw in a good GIF). Check in with your teammates to make sure you're all on track. Along the way, earn rewards for Actions like making a voting plan, checking out your sample ballot and sharing reminders.
What if I change my mind and decide I don't want to vote? Just email the motivote team at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that you no longer want to participate, and we'll remove you from the team.
For Team Leads
Who can create a team? Anyone! If you’re creating a team, you want to make sure your friends get out and VOTE. You care about civic participation and political outcomes, but also know that sometimes life gets...busy. You might miss an election every now and then, or feel uninformed, or forget to switch their registration when you move, and you want to make sure you vote. In short, if you’re creating a team you want to stay on top of what needs to get done, and want to make sure your friends do, too.
What's the time commitment? You're busy. We get it. So we do all the heavy lifting. Creating a team takes less than 5 minutes (unless you really struggle to come up with a team name—that's the hardest part). If you are participating in a game that uses the financial pledge, you'll also select where forfeited pledges go for your team.
Then you'll get a link and language to forward to friends, who may need a few nudges. Nothing offline is required (except when it comes to voting itself.) Or, enter the names and contact info of friends you want to invite, and we'll get them signed up for you.
From there, we give you weekly updates you can pass on to your team. On election day, you'll help make sure your team members turn out and submit their verification.
Who can be on my team? Team members must be eligible to vote in the specified election. They must be eligible to vote per the state registration deadline. For the primaries this summer, your team members must be voting in the same state as you, so that you can vote and verify on the same day. For the midterms, you can form a team with eligible voter across the country because all states are voting on the same day.
Who should be on my team? We encourage you to invite friends who do not typically vote in primary or midterm elections, so that we can move the needle on turnout. Your outreach—plus the social accountability and incentives that motivote offers—can make the difference in helping them show up for the first time. With more voices at the ballot box, we have more representative government.
Is there a minimum and maximum team size? Teams must have a minimum of three players (a Team Lead, plus two more) but the sky's the limit for team size. Keep in mind that social accountability works best when your teammates know each other. Consider forming a team that is small enough to ensure familiarity.
Why do primary elections matter? Unequal representation means unequal influence. While we can provide an entire syllabus on the importance of voting, we want to highlight why voting in the primaries counts. Think of it as the semi-finals for a sports tournament. Primaries determine who gets to face off in the final game.
Take New York as an example:
- New York House districts are SO uncompetitive that 90 percent are determined in the primary election. By the time the general election comes around, most races have already been decided.
- Young people are particularly bad at turning out to vote in off-year elections. Over half (51.1%) of newly registered voters in 2017 were under the age of 30. However, only 13.4% of registered voters under 30 cast a ballot in 2017. Elected officials have NO incentive to respond to the policy priorities of young people if they can’t count on their votes.
- New York comes in 41st among states in voter turnout. Low voter turnout can produce entrenched, unresponsive elected officials who are more beholden to their financial supporters than the electorate.
Okay, voting is important. But how does this help me? Our interviews with hundreds of voters surfaced a common thread: People express a desire to vote and articulate the value of doing so, but when Election Day comes, sometimes “microbarriers” get in the way. Things like getting held up at work, missing a registration deadline, feeling uninformed about the candidates, giving up because a line was too long, and so on.
We feel a little frustrated with friends when they don't follow through, and a little guilty when it's us who dropped the ball. (Hey, we've been there.)
Like going to the gym or doing your laundry, voting is one of those things that feels easier to plan than actually do when the time comes and other parts of life get in the way.
We bridge the gap between intention and action, applying research-backed principles that help people hold themselves accountable to goals in other areas of life, like losing weight. In short: You don’t want to let down your friends, so you’re more likely to do it. We make it fun and social. Plus, prizes!
Ooh, research-backed principles! Like what? Humans face present bias, meaning we often overvalue immediate rewards at the expense of long-term goals. ("My diet starts Monday.") We also overestimate our likelihood of completing desirable behaviors.
motivote combines the power of the self-prophecy effect and social influence to ensure people take steps to overcome microbarriers and follow through voting. In the behavioral economics literature, this is a commitment device: "an arrangement entered into by an individual with the aim of helping fulfill a plan for future behavior."
If you want to geek out with us, check out some more research here.