Dozens of states, cities and local communities are holding elections over the next few months, and while these races are often less publicized than the national campaigns seen in the fall, they are still very important to how your neighborhood, county or state is run.
To help answer the questions you may have about the voting process and the candidates running, tech expert and entrepreneur Myron Ragsdale created InfoVote, a free app that provides voters with a centralized source of information.
The app, available in the Google Play store and App Store, pulls information from candidates’ websites while also giving people a way to check their voter registration status, register to vote, request an absentee ballot and find the nearest polling place.
“While many people show up for the general elections, what we found is a lot of people fail to turn out in the midterms. So what we want to do is increase awareness to get as many people involved as possible. Essentially, that’s what info vote was designed to do: To increase voter awareness and to prepare inner-city millennials for the midterm and general elections,” Ragsdale said in an interview.
“I saw a need for millennials to be more informed and more involved in the elections process, and my goal was to provide a safe environment for voter research with the application. Another goal was to increase voter awareness and then to provide a platform where not only millennials but seniors as well could vet their candidates before casting their ballot.”
Ragsdale said he came up with the idea for InfoVote a few years ago but truly began putting things together in July 2020. He was inspired to put the idea into practice due to the highly-publicized 2020 election cycle and the global protests over racism and policing that took place last summer.
He noted that many people often vote for candidates based on party affiliation or the sound of their name because of how hard it is to find nonpartisan information about the people running for office.
As an expert in UX and UI, Ragsdale personally built the interface and then had a team help him build out the backend of the app. Ragsdale currently runs a digital marketing firm in Detroit.
The tool is nonpartisan and designed for all voters to get a better understanding of both Republican and Democratic candidates running for local or national office, he explained.
“I feel like the best way for us to get the change that we’re looking for is if we get as many people involved in the process as possible and to be informed on who’s representing us at the federal state and local level,” he said.
“I’ve been blown away by the response we’ve been getting. More people are looking to get involved in politics.”
The app pulls its information from publicly available information online and from candidates’ platforms. As an example, he said the information on President Joe Biden’s page and Vice President Kamala Harris’ page is taken directly from the whitehouse.gov site.
While the tool is targeted toward millennials, Ragsdale joked that his mother asked him why it wouldn’t be just as useful for older voters.
His hope is to eventually expand the app beyond the United States to Canada, Europe and other regions of the world eager to learn more about their political leader’s views on critical issues.
He is also interested in the app being promoted in high schools as kids reach the age of 18 and have to start learning about how to vote and what candidates may appeal to them.
“We just want everyone’s voice to be heard. I hope everyone enjoys it,” he said. “This is really for the people.”