Free The Vote Campaign
- Branding & Content
- UX / UI
- Site Development & Maintenance
Restoring Voting Rights In California
Free The Vote is an active statewide campaign in California to restore voting rights to people on parole with prior felony convictions. The campaign is organized and supported by a coalition of justice organizations, community groups, volunteers, and elected officials. I’ve been working on racial justice policy reform for the past few years. Through this work I connected with the Free The Vote Campaign organizers and have led the design of the campaign website.
Problem: Voter Disenfranchisement
Felony disenfranchisement – including in California – dates back to the era of racially discriminatory Jim Crow laws. After the Civil War, California refused to ratify the 15th Amendment, which prohibits voting restrictions based on race, and instead added felony disenfranchisement to the state constitution. It’s time to end this shameful chapter of our history. This bill will roll back a substantial form of voter suppression currently facing Californians of color.
50,000 people on parole in California
are legally prohibited from voting
Because the disenfranchisement of Californians on parole is inscribed in the state’s constitution, the restoration of voting rights to otherwise-eligible adults results only from a proposed amendment to the California Constitution. The Free The Vote campaign will restore voting rights to people on parole by passing Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 6 and Assembly Bill (AB) 646 as well as placing an initiative on the 2020 Ballot. As a potential constitutional amendment, ACA 6 needs a ⅔ majority in both state houses to pass. The 2020 Ballot Initiative will also need a ⅔ majority of public votes to pass.
ACA 6 + AB 646
2020 Ballot Initiative
Branding and Design System
In order to visually relate the campaign logo to concepts of democracy and voting I sought inspiration from “I Voted” stickers (a popular touchpoint and icon of the voting process).
Given the scale and multi-year duration of the campaign it’s important that the logo work in a range of contexts including black-and-white printouts. I created a range of logo concepts and evaluated them in black before exploring color options.
Final Logo Design Elements
With feedback and input from the coalition representatives the following logo I created was selected for the campaign. The logo features three core elements:
The form and color scheme are suggestive of the USA flag and associated concepts of democracy and civic participation.
The only non-textual element in the design is a set of parallel bars that accentuate the suggested lines of the American flag as well as create an equals sign that hints at the equality/inequality the campaign seeks to address.
As opposed to the more standard USA navy blue and dark red, this specific blue and red were chosen to remain clearly related to the standard colors while also appearing fresher and brighter, reflecting the evolving nature of the symbology.
I selected bold primary colors to relate both to the political context as well as the activist nature of the campaign. The sharp contrast of these colors works well to capture attention in a variety of media.
These secondary colors serve to soften the blue and red primaries and distinguish the site from other political campaigns. The particular lightness of colors was selected to both offer a background for text as well as a color backdrop for photo treatments.
I selected this third set of colors to further differentiate the tone of the site from typical political campaigns. This wider range of bright colors is both inviting and related to several contexts of the campaign (the gold for California and the teal in honor of Initiate Justice’s foundational work in the movement).
Type Contrast (Accessibility)
Each of the colors in the design system passes Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) when used as a background color along with normal-sized text in either the .ftv-white or .ftv-black.
Site Design & Build
Appeal to Public Concerns
Democracy Needs Everyone
The right to vote is essential to an effective democracy. Voting rights affects everyone.
Public Safety Improves
People with felony convictions want to vote and identify education, public safety, and economic stability as priority issues. Voting helps people connect and invest in their communities which reduces recidivism.
76% of people on parole in California said voting would help them stay out of jail
– according to the “Democracy Needs Everyone” report by Initiate Justice
Precedent For Success
18 other states and the District of Columbia allow returning citizens with felony convictions to vote. In mid-2019 Nevada and Colorado joined the growing movement to end voter disenfranchisement and serve as examples of how other states can do the same.
I used Omnigraffle to create a sitemap in order to rapidly experiment with different arrangements of site content. I focused on identifying all the potentially interactive elements within the content to better understand how a visitor might navigate through the site.
WordPress was selected as a preferable CMS to use for the actual site due to the ease of finding people to maintain and update it along the way (the communication director is also familiar with the platform). I selected an initial theme (Neve) based on its adaptability to our design as well as its accessibility-readiness. I created a child theme to maintain our customs styles as updates to the parent theme become available and deployed.
Prototyping in Sketch and InVision
I used Sketch to rapidly iterate designs for the site. I then used InVision to create interactive site mockups to share with the coalition representatives for review and feedback.
Custom WordPress Theme & CSS
I created a custom WordPress child-theme, along with custom CSS, to achieve the desired appearance and functionality of the site while maintaining the ability of the client to make regular updates through the WordPress admin panel.
I presented the built site to the various stakeholders in the Free The Vote campaign for review and comment. After a brief period of edits we launched the site in mid-May 2019, and none too soon. With the legislative cycle in full swing every day counts to build support for the campaign!
The site is live at www.freethevoteca.org
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Coalition members support for the campaign keeps growing. The campaign was in full force at the 2019 CA Democratic Convention in San Francisco. Many people who visited the booth expressed their excitement and support for the campaign, including some elected officials and Presidential Candidates.
It makes me smile every time I see that logo in service 🙂
ACA 6 Passes in the Assembly!
ACA 6 was approved in a full floor vote by the state Assembly! This historic victory is the result of tireless efforts of the many organizations and individuals who’ve organized, lobbied, and rallied support for the movement to restore voting rights.