1MyVote app provides voters with all they need to get to the polls and stay involved.
From the pages of In Business magazine.
Oftentimes, the smallest of activities spark large ideas, and that was certainly the case for Emily Kuhn, cofounder and chief design officer of 1MyVote LLC. Kuhn and her radiologist-husband launched the company in July 2015, but the idea came to her earlier when she went to do her civic duty.
Kuhn, 40, a graduate of Kenosha’s Carthage College with degrees in international political economics and Spanish, had long been interested in politics — at least until motherhood took temporary precedence.
“I was always the go-to person for my friends who wanted to vote but didn’t know when the election was, who to vote for, or where to vote,” she says. Then one election day, the new mother found herself staring blankly at a ballot form and not recognizing any of the candidate’s names. “I hadn’t had time to do that research as a new mom, and I began to wonder how the average voter did it.”
That led to the launch of 1MyVote as an informational tool to keep voters in the loop. It should not be confused with MyVote.gov, the state’s voting website. Rather, 1MyVote is a free, nonpartisan smartphone app providing information on federal and local races across all 50 states. In 2016, the app featured the presidential race, plus all gubernatorial races, all U.S. Senate races, and all congressional races in the upper Midwest. In Wisconsin, it also provided information on state senate and assembly races. Including nationwide races helps absentee voters stay informed on races back home, Kuhn explains.
“We load the names of the candidates, pictures if available, and their top three issues as determined from their websites,” Kuhn explains. For April’s upcoming election, 1MyVote will feature information on the (uncontested) Wisconsin Supreme Court race, state school superintendent, Madison school board, Dane County executive, Middleton mayoral, and races in Middleton, Madison, and Verona, among others. The app breaks races down by zip code to help people understand those affecting their voting district. It also provides resources for people interested in running for office or becoming activists.
From January through November of 2016, 1MyVote downloads increased from 80 to 2,200. About half of those were in Wisconsin with a large portion, Kuhn surmises, from Dane County.
A few things have surprised her along the way. Initially, she thought the app would attract younger (under-25) voters or young mothers like her, but analytics have shown that users run the gamut from ages 17 to 74. She also expected downloads to fall off after the November 2016 election but the opposite has occurred.
Last summer, a group studying messaging in the state assembly races approached 1MyVote and agreed to pay for a poll of the app’s downloaders. “That’s where we can make money,” Kuhn says. “Our polling is very local, in real time, and can be done for a very low cost. We have a large, trusting group that is very honest,” she says.
Survey questions are now a mainstay and can be broadly based (statewide) or focused (zip code). “We don’t self-select the respondents. We get average voters across the socio-economic spectrum and across party lines. While users are in [our app], they can choose whether or not to answer the polling questions.” Responding to a question is simple, quick, and instantly generates a pie-chart result.
Kuhn believes the nonpartisan nature of 1MyVote makes users more receptive and willing to speak their mind honestly, and she sees opportunities for chambers of commerce or business groups to monitor the public’s pulse on a range of topics from economics to job training to taxes.
1MyVote isn’t making money yet, which is why Kuhn continues building apps in her day job as a project manager for the federal government. But after self-funding the venture, the couple believes they are on track to break even in 2018 and begin making money by 2020 “because we haven’t even touched advertising or other avenues yet,” Kuhn says.
“We’re just focused on surveying right now.”
Facebook/App Store: 1MyVote
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