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Master: CircleCI Production: CircleCI

Drive the Vote helps people arrange free rides to the polls on election day. It consists of:

  • A scheduling app, so either voters or volunteers can pre-schedule rides.
  • A text-based interface for voters to request rides on-demand--no smartphone required!
  • An app for dispatchers to monitor voters and volunteer drivers in real-time.
  • A location-aware app for drivers, to notify them when a nearby voter has requested or scheduled a ride.

Here's what the Philadelphia dispatch and driver apps looked like on election morning 2016:

DtV screenshots

Running the app

Check out the repo

  1. git clone
  2. cd

Preparing your environment

Certain features require you to add a .env file to the root app directory containing these values:


You can generate the value for SECRET_KEY_BASE by running bundle exec rake secret.

The Twilio values are used for sms interactions with voters and can be obtained from your Twilio account, which you'll also use to create a Twilio number with sms capabilities, and update the ride zone you want to work with to use it. Using Twilio numbers during local dev requires setting up ngrok.

GOOGLE_API_KEY is used for geolocation, and can be created in the Google API console. Enable all geo APIs for the key.

Option 1: run with Docker (recommended)

  1. Install docker.
  2. Run docker-compose up. This will start three containers: one for postgres, one for redis and one that runs rails + the webpack dev server.
  3. On the first run, or after a schema or seed-data change, run docker-compose exec web bundle exec rails db:create db:schema:load db:seed to setup the database.
  4. To shut down the DtV containers: docker-compose stop

Your current directory will be mounted into the docker instances so changes to the files should go live immediately without restarting the environment. If you need to restart the rails server, just run docker-compose up again.

To get a bash shell on the current docker instance, run:

docker-compose exec web bash -l

To get a Rails console on the current docker instance, run:

docker-compose exec web bundle exec rails console

Option 2: run directly

  1. Install postgresql
  2. Install Redis (to run: redis-server /usr/local/etc/redis.conf)
  3. Install bundler: gem install bundler
  4. Install gems: bundle install
  5. Run rake pg:first_run on the first run, and rake pg:start for subsequent runs to start the DB
  6. To set up the db: rake db:create; rake db:migrate; rake db:seed.
  7. bundle exec rails webpacker:install (I think?)
  8. Run bundle exec rake foreman:dev to start the server in dev mode. You can check to see the servers this starts.

For production, instead of foreman:dev, run

  1. rake assets:precompile
  2. rake foreman:prod

If you don't want to use foreman, you have to run the rails server (Puma) and the webpack server in separate terminals: bundle exec rails server and bundle exec ./bin/webpack-dev-server, respectively.

Running specs

bundle exec rake spec executes all tests in the spec directory. Run locally before committing, the app won't deploy if specs don't pass.

If adding or modifying tests that will make new calls to the Google Maps APIs, you'll need to run with a valid GOOGLE_API_KEY, both to get your tests to pass, and also to refill the cached test data for use in later runs (including CI). See the discussion in spec/rails_helpers.rb for instructions on how to run with a live API Key.

Running cron or a scheduled Lambda to promote rides

A process needs to run every minute or so to check scheduled rides, and promote ones that are approaching their pickup time from 'scheduled' to 'waiting assignment,' so that they become available to drivers. That process needs to POST to this url, which will promote imminent rides: /api/1/rides/confirm_scheduled.

The preferred production setup is to run a dedicated worker instance, but any instance acting as a worker (dedicated or not), needs to have the DTV_IS_WORKER env var set to TRUE.

The call to confirm_scheduled can be made via cron or using the scheduled AWS Lambda available in this repo.

The conversation bot

In practice it turns out scheduled rides seem to be the primary use case. The app also supports on-demand rides via SMS. In that case information is gathered by a basic text bot, information about which can be found in

Using the app locally

Go to http://localhost:3000 and log in as the generic admin with email and password 1234abcd. Since this account has admin privileges, logging in with it takes you directly to the admin site. If it has only driver privileges, it would take you to the driver app, and if only dispatcher privileges, to the dispatch page for the ride zone attached to your account. If for some reason your account has no privileges at all, you'll end up at the homepage, but that shouldn't happen. Note the accounts in seeds.rb don't exist in production, so don't get cute.

Useful URLs:

Spoofing location in the browser ?

Testing Emails

For features that send emails, run MailHog or MailCatcher locally. The development environment is configured to send email to the correct port. On macOS you can use brew to install and run Mailhog:

brew update && brew install mailhog
brew services start mailhog

Once started you can view the Mailhog client at http://localhost:8025/


  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch: git checkout -b my-new-feature
  3. Follow rails core team coding conventions
  4. Provide test coverage/specs for your changes, and make sure all specs pass: bundle exec rake
  5. Commit your changes: git commit -am 'Add some feature'
  6. Push upstream: git push origin my-new-feature
  7. Create new Pull Request
  8. Request a code review
  9. After review and approval, merge your own work to master


This software is released under the MIT License. See the file for more information.