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LAist Interview: Debra Cleaver of Long Distance Voter

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Record numbers of Americans are casting their votes early, through early voting in-person or via absentee ballots. However, the absentee ballot process varies from state to state and can be immensely confusing. This year a few dedicated people set out to simplify the absentee voting process for Americans in all 50 states, and created Long Distance Voter -- a comprehensive website with information on each state's process for requesting absentee ballots, deadlines, and voting by mail. Of note, many states have simplified the process (for example California's Secretary of State's office has comprehensive information, and for those in Los Angeles County, and you've likely seen the billboards for LAVote.net around town).

LAist talked to Long Distance Voter's Founder and Executive Director, Debra Cleaver, who's based in Los Angeles.

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LAist: How and why did you come up with Long Distance Voter?

Cleaver: I started working with Swing the State (a now-defunct voter mobilization group) back in 2004. In 2006 a few of us attended a conference in Vegas, and, ironically enough, a couple of us forgot to vote before leaving. My friend Jon Liroff thought about that for a second and asked why no one was compiling all the absentee ballot information online. It was a lightbulb moment for us, but we were all caught up with other projects, so we didn't act on it. In January 2008, I decided it was time to act on Liroff's idea and started recruiting folks. Liroff came up with the name, I took care of our incorporation paperwork, and Long Distance Voter was born. We launched the site in April of this year. It's pretty surprising that this niche hadn't been filled already, but given our daily traffic, folks are happy we've stepped up.