The Tinder of Politics: Swipe Left or Right for Your Presidential Candidate

Tech Features
Share Tweet Submit Pin

It was during the 2012 presidential election when Hunter Scarborough, CEO and Founder of Voter, realized there was something missing in politics. Scarborough was working 12 to 14 hour days at his advertising job and had very little time to get the facts about each politician.
“I found that really frustrating because I didn’t trust the media. I didn’t want to vote on a soundbite or vote on a soundbite from my uncle and I thought in the 21st century there must be a way to leverage technology to make that process easier for me. It was then that I had the idea for Voter, sort of online dating for politics.”

As an app for your smartphone (currently only available at the Apple App Store but will be available on Android soon) Voter is really simple and surprisingly informative/educational in a short amount of time. Once you download the app, you are given a series of very direct questions that you either swipe left or right according to your beliefs. These questions include “Legalize Marijuana?” or “Abolish the Death Penalty?” and you would swipe left (no) or right (yes) for the respective answers. After you have finished the first eight questions (Level One), you are given the opportunity to move on to the next level or see which politicians or political parties you matched with.

This is where Voter gets really interesting and actually pretty fun, because most of us probably feel like we could predict the top three politicians that would come up, but instead an entire list of candidates is given with a percentage rating of how their stances matched with yours. You can click on each politician or party to see what you agree on, what you disagree on, where politicians get their contributions from. From each politician’s page, you are even given the opportunity to contact them or donate to their campaign if you feel inclined.

But as with anything political, many will wonder where Voter gets the information that it uses to pair you with politicians or parties. Also, with all the 24-hour news stations, campaign speeches, interviews, etc. how does this app, which is very easy to use, not get bogged down with all the information? Scarborough discovered during the early stages of developing Voter that there were non-profit organizations already collecting and organizing this kind of information.

“When we actually delved into the project there are a lot of amazing organizations out there that did a lot of the hard work for us like, Sunlight Foundation, GovTrack.us, OpenSecrets, OpenCongress, the list goes on,” Scarborough said. “These organizations have done a lot of the hard work and we can just tie into their APIs and grab this really important and really valuable civic data.”

voter 1.jpg

Scarborough added that the purpose of the app was not just to inform the user, but to inform the user in a very quick amount of time. Within a span of one or two minutes, you can be finished with the second or third level of questions and evaluating your matches.

“We want to give (the user) a really quick, easy experience on the surface but underneath the hood, there are hundreds of thousands of data points being pulled from, and vast amounts of information going in to make sure your match is accurate. That’s really the idea.”

Another interesting thing about Voter is how social it makes politics. It is easy to pull up the Voter app on your phone at a bar and give your friends a turn. It is fun to see your results with friends and it can start really interesting conversations. Voter also allows you to log in with your Facebook account and you can participate in group discussions within the app.

But this is where Voter seems to be a bit of a maverick, as one former candidate might say, because it can buck the “don’t talk politics” social rule we are all taught. The best part about Voter, though, it can be this great tool to start political discussions with friends, family, or strangers. Scarborough acknowledged that mixing discussion boards and politics can get pretty nasty, but there should be a place where people can have these serious exchanges.

“That’s not terrible advice. People can get really fired up when they talk about politics. I think the younger generation is a little less inclined to get stuck on those kinds of things. Obviously, those conversations need to be had sometime, right? So there needs to be a place where that is okay or that is what you are supposed to do. This is a place for that.”

Scarborough says that besides making the app available to Android users, other updates will be coming soon as well. Voter would like to have candidates for the U.S. Senate incorporated into the app by early next year and future, long-term goals would include gubernatorial and eventually the House of Representatives.

“Past that point the information gets pretty overwhelming,” Scarborough said. “We actually have some strategies of how we would tackle local elections. Because that’s honestly where the opportunity is greatest… These local officials actually affect our day-to-day lives more than the president does in a lot of ways. That’s what our goal is: to get down to the local level so you can say ‘these are all the elections that are relevant to me, this is where I need to vote on them, these are the candidates that line up with my beliefs, and these are the propositions that line up with my beliefs.”

Voter is available for free on the iTunes App Store and will be available for Android products very soon.