Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Political Galaxy Makes for Easy Voting

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 12:00 PM

The United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts when it comes to national elections as compared to other established democracies.

The percentage of 18-to-24-year-olds who are actually turning out for voting and registration is especially low with only 41.2 percent of the demographic present in the 2012 Presidential Election. 72 percent of those 65 and older were represented in the 2012 election, but collectively the demographics only brought in 59 percent of American voters. 

The United States follows behind other democracies such as Australia, Belgium, and Chile; each bringing in about 90 percent of eligible voters to their elections while the United States often brings in around 60 percent. 

With the increased accessibility to technology, information regarding voting has become jaded. Information across the internet, while available, is muffled and unclear. Instead of sifting through complex reports, graphs, and statistics, even registered voters are choosing to evade the polls completely rather than deal with internet schemes.  

Margaux Meyer, research associate for Project Vote Smart, says this low turnout is a problem all Americans should be concerned with. She says the poor results are due to the lack of trust and information given to voters before they hit the polls. 

"One of the main reasons people don't vote is because they have no idea where to start getting educated," Meyer said. "They just don't know where to go or who to trust." 

Meyer, along with her team at Vote Smart, worked to develop Political Galaxy after the idea to give people  a better political education sparked two years ago.  

The tool allows users to type in a politicians name and it instantly connects him/her with any major issue involved in their political campaign. The site first provides users with an extensive list of issues ranging from abortion to transportation. Upon selection an issue, six more categories appear giving users an option to investigate the bio, votes, positions, ratings, speeches and funding per candidate, per issue. 

"We realized that our database was so big a so in-depth that it was hard for everyday citizens to do things exactly as they wanted and as quickly as they wanted," Meyers said. "We decided to create a new tool that makes it basically fast, fun and completely free for any American."

For those skeptical of Vote Smart's intentions, Meyer assures that they are completely funded and powered by average citizens with no intentions of disguising the truth. 

"Vote Smart can't be bought. It's not biased," Meyer said. "It actually is someone you can trust and we are willing to prove that in so many different ways." 

The program currently has information on all congressional candidates, but Vote Smart has plans to soon expand the pool of candidates, Meyer said. The hope for the project is to ultimately spread knowledge to any American who seeks it out. The staff at Vote Smart hopes voters will utilize this tool to their advantage and thereby expand the total of American voters at not only presidential elections, but congressional elections as well. 

"All we really want to do is give people a tool to take control of their government." 

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