Open source the vote

There's now an open-source application to let your Web site visitors register to vote in the U.S. elections.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
Open source the vote with this Ruby-based voter registration program.

Want to do your part in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections? There's an open-source app. For that.

The Democratic party has released a Ruby on Rails open-source program, Voter Registration that enables you to deploy a Web application that enables U.S. citizens to register to vote. There is also a version that you can simply embed on your site, which is branded for the Obama/Biden campaign. The open-source version is unbranded so there's nothing on it that even a Tea Party member could object to.

To deploy the open-source version, your Web site will need to have Ruby 1.9.3 installed and the the RubyGem "bundler" installed. RubyGem is the Ruby package manager. The campaign branded version can be placed on any Web site by simply embedding the following code:

<iframe id="gottaregister" name="1_1" src="https://gottaregister.com/?brand=embed&source=" width="460" frameborder="" height="500" style="display: block; overflow: hidden; margin: auto; background-color: #ffffff; padding: 20px; border: 0 moz-border-radius: 0; webkit-border-radius: 0; border-radius: 0; "></iframe>

on the appropriate page of your site.

Both versions present a potential voter with a fill-in-the-blank voter registration form. This information is then used to generate a National Voter Registration Form in PDF. This form can then be printed out and turned in to your state voter registration office. If a would-be voter is from a state that allows online voter registration, the form passes you, and your information, to your state's online voter registration page.

If you just want to register online to vote, you can also do so with the non-partisan version of the program from a cloud-based Voter Registration site. There the application runs off the Heroku cloud platform.

The Democrats aren't the only ones trying to make it easy for voters to register. Google has partnered with TurboVote to make it easy to register. So, if you want to have a say in this year's election, it's time to get moving. Registration deadlines are rapidly approaching in most states.

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