Election season is slowly approaching which can only mean one thing— your Facebook news feed is about to become unbearable.
Whether it’s your high school friend’s three paragraph post on immigration or your Aunt Mary’s ill advised link to a previously unheard of party-extremist website, sifting through the political sludge of election season is enough to convince you that democracy might not have been the best course of action.
The age old question still remains— does anyone really know what they are talking about? And more importantly, are they actually endorsing the right candidate?
Political startups have come and gone through the years but in the matchmaking era of Tinder, there appears to be new hope for tech’s power to inform voters.
Local LA startup Voter has taken the swipe right approach and applied it to policies in order to give you a real understanding of which candidate fits you best. It provides millennials with insights into various policies while also delivering the euphoric rush of a Tinder match — except in this case it’s a 65 year old white guy who has no interest in meeting up for drinks.
Co-founder Hunter Scarborough conceived the idea in 2012 when his stressful post-grad job left him with no time to research the candidates in the presidential election. As someone who valued personal research, he knew there had to be a way to incorporate technology into the decision making process.
“In all honesty, politics is boring,” Scarborough said. ‘The problem is that most people, especially millennials, try to avoid it. The average attention span in 2015 is eight seconds— that’s the unfortunate reality of the world we live in. I wanted to find a way to distill politics down while still giving it concrete value.”
However, Scarborough quickly learned he wasn’t the first entrepreneur to test the political app market. The Sean Parker-backed Brigade just entered private beta, Periscope is becoming a popular tool for presidential hopefuls, and Snapchat is rumored to be making a major political media push come 2016. There were even other companies that have applied the matchmaking approach to choosing a candidate, but it is Voter’s meticulous data aggregation that Scarborough hopes will separate it from the pack and help users better understand the candidates.
By analyzing voting records, talking points in speeches, and campaign website information, Voter aims to provide a truly authentic look at the candidates that come to a surprise to many users.
“When I used the app for the first time, I matched with a candidate who I had never heard of. So I did some research and said, ‘Hey, I kind of like this guy.’” Scarborough said. “Our goal is to give you a really clear picture of how candidate X stands within 30 seconds. ”
Millennials reportedly have the highest volunteering and community service rates of any previous generation, yet are in dead last in voter turnout. This demonstrates a clear desire to make a positive social impact, but a disturbing disconnect in understanding the value of voting. Scarborough says he hopes to bridge that gap.
The app launched in public beta on July 4th and has planned an official launch on September 17th. Within the next two months they plan on adding an android version of the app, curated Senate candidates, and voter registration information to make the process as easy as possible for the potential voter.
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