Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Rebooting the Voting Experience

With th 21st Century moving along, I found these companies that are addressing the political process of voting.

For Voters

Target Audience: Everyone over the age of 18
Leaning: Nonpartisan

Every Election day, Voters show up at their respective polling places only to leave entire portions of their ballots blank because they don't know much about varies candidates. BallotReady, an IBM Watson-partnered website created by Alex Niemczewski, Aviva Rosman, and Sebastian Ellefson, that aims to close that knowledge gap. Voters plug in their ZIP code to get served a simple-to-digest backgrounder on any candidate, from a Presidential contender to a Town Treasurer, assembled from publicly available sate crowdsourced information with an editorial touch. While the for-profit, which launched out of the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, currently has a presence in 25 States, Its ambitious goal is to "cover every election in every democratic nation."

CLICK HERE for your ballot.

Democracy Works
Target Audience: College students and Millennials
Leaning: Nonpartisan

With the aspiration that "voting should fit the way we live," Co-Founders Seth FFlaxman and Kathryn Peters are trying to boost registered Voter turnout to 80%, a number this Country hasn't seen 130 years. Its TurboVote website acts as a gateway to all things voting, from Voter Registration to Absentee ballot request forms, and texts citizen reminders of upcoming elections. The Brooklyn, New York based, MacArthur Foundation-backed operation has partnered with more than 200 universities and over 30 companies, including Airbnb and Starbucks, to accelerate its civicengagement goal, and sell technology to Election officials that tracks Absentee ballots, called Ballot Scout.

Click Here to see how it works.

Target Audience: Smart Phone Users
Leaning: Nonpartisan

In an attempt to modernize the anachronistic voting booth experience, Co-Founder Nimit Sawhney, his brother Simer, and Isaac Charny are working to transform the act of voting into something that is both digital and mobile. Using fingerprint biometrics to verify a Voter's identity and blockchain technology to keep the transactions secure. Brookline, Massachusetts-based Voatz is in the early days of building technology that will allow people to vote with their mobile phones. While the startup, with $75,000 in funding, has 10 clients, its largest deployment so far has been at the Massachusetts Democratic Convention. Nimit, a former R&D Head at a mobile security company, Voatz looks to have adoption in several states by 2020. From there, he believes, "it will go viral."

CLICK HERE to see how it works.

For Outreach/Community

Target Audience: Millennials
Leaning: Nonpartisan

After volunteering for the 2012 Obama Campaign, Elsa Sze realized that for many, democracy was "a once every four years" phenomenon. Meanwhile, as a Harvard Grad student getting her joint MBA and Masters in Public Policy, she'd attended hundreds of New England Town Halls, "the purest form of democracy", but learned that "people who show up tend to be older, louder, and crankier than most. They're not necessarily representative." she says. To remedy that imbalance, she launched online Community platform Agora, which allows any group to create a public live-streamed Town Hall, Host discussion, and perform Real-Time Polling for Free. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm, which has raised $500,000 from Charles River Ventures, also sells private Town Halls with analytics to companies like Microsoft.

CLICK HERE to find out more about Agora.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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