The Federal Election is just two months away. Do you know who you are voting for yet? Let’s face it, some of us simply lack significant knowledge about the political process. Others could care less about the tedious promises and scripted speeches by the candidates (who almost always all look the same!). But fear not! Now you don’t have to vote for someone just ”because everyone else is.”
Pollenize is a website an mobile application ‘designed to provide voters with an organized, unbiased overview of each candidate’s platform.’ I spoke with the co-founders, Miguel Barbosa and Trevor Blades, to find out some more information about their unique organization. Here’s what they had to say:
1) What inspired you to create Pollenize?
Miguel: I was watching a Toronto Mayoral Election debate and one of the candidates didn’t give a concrete answer on how they were going to encourage youth to vote. The main issue to me was that candidate websites are poorly designed and crammed with political rhetoric.
2) What sparked your interest in politics?
Trevor: When we first started Pollenize, I wasn’t particularly interested in politics. I understood the importance of becoming involved, and the whole team could see that we had an opportunity to make it easier for other people to get involved. Since we’ve been working on this project however, it’s become a little bit more interesting to me because the storylines that play out throughout an election can be dramatic and fun to follow along with (see the 2014 Toronto Mayoral Election).
3) How do you plan to increase voter turnout with this app?
Trevor: Everybod5y has a values and opinions regarding how they’d like their country to be run. We believe that people want to vote and make a difference, but it’s difficult to understand exactly how the candidates competing in an election align with their values. Pollenize compiles information, cuts out all of the political jargon that scares people away, and presents it in a simple and friendly design.
4) What tips do you have on how to get young adults involved in politics?
Trevor: Make election day a national holiday. We need to create an event out of this day and make voting feel like more of a privilege than a right.
5) How do you plan on getting people to use your app?
Miguel: We all volunteer our time on this and don’t have any capital for advertising. We have lots of original content to release that is the total opposite of the traditional election media narrative. Staying active on social media and providing a strong product was the key to our success in Toronto and we are confident this will be amplified due to this election being on a national level.
6) What can we do to break the ”Canadian politics is boring” mentality?
Miguel: Elections Canada and the Canadian government are in a perfect position to innovate their digital services. Every government website and online tool could use a more thoughtful design approach. How people interact with things is sometimes more important than the content itself.Trevor: What seems like “boring” to one person could be really exciting to another.
7) Did you see positive results with voter turnout after the Toronto 2014 election?
Miguel: GTA voter turnout is on a 3-election high. Voter turnout skyrocketed in Toronto to 980,000. 60% voter turnout. I don’t feel comfortable with saying Pollenize had a definitive affect on that. We just hope it added to the election experience and sparked more political conversations among people of all ages.
8) What are your predictions on who will win the federal election?
Trevor: I can’t predict how the election will turn out, but I know that there are a number of issues that Canadians have their focus on and could really set the tone for this election. Canada’s economic status, privacy-related issues (namely bill C-51), and environmental issues such as the Alberta tar sands, pipeline construction, and national park preservation will all be on the minds of voters as the election unfolds.
9) What is the voter turnout rate you’re hoping to see?
Miguel: Let’s get back to April, 1963 where the turnout was 79.2%. That’d be spectacular.
Agreed. Download the app in your app store for free now!