With the General Election coming up, the USI has, with the help of ‘SmartVote’, created a new app labelled “The Tinder of Politics”. This app aims to match the public; students in particular, with the political candidates whom best share their political views and ideas. The idea behind this is to cover key issues and encourage as many people as possible to vote and have their say in the election, and to modernise the voting process. The app was launched on Wednesday the 13th of January at the Mansion House.
The app works by firstly asking all political candidates their opinion on 30 topical issues. The user then provides their own opinion on the same issues and the app then matches the user to the candidates whom best represent their views. Similar voting apps and assistance tools are already in use in other countries in Europe and have enjoyed considerable success; in particular Stemwijzer in Holland which is used by 80% of people aged 18-25 during election times.
President of the USI, Kevin Donoghue, is reportedly “extremely excited to be working with ‘Smartvote’ and hopes “It will revolutionise the General Election and the voting process. It’s quick, simple, easy-to-use and will educate the public on who their political candidates are, what they stand for and why they’re worthy of their vote. Lines can be blurred leading up to the general election about where different political candidates stand on important issues. This app cuts through any confusion and gets straight to the point.”
The app was first used by over 2,000 students in UCD for their Students’ Union election in March of 2015. 83% of those who provided feedback stated they would use the app again for the general election.
The app ‘Smartvote’ was created by UCD’s Innovation Academy under its founder, Keith Moore. He explained that the app came about as result of the last local elections: “I had a problem in the local Elections. There was no one place where I could go, to easily compare the 23 candidates in my constituency. For the first time in my life I didn’t vote. I thought to myself, there has to be a better way to make an informed voting decision than posters and flyers; and thus ‘Smartvote’ was born”.
“In the past two years USI have registered over 80,000 new student voters.” Donoghue said, “Smartvote is a free and efficient way for us to empower both the public and political candidates through a national platform modernising voting and allowing fast, accurate and direct messaging on the key issues that will sway votes.”
Smartvote has already had two pilots – the first during UCD’s Student Union Election and the second in the recent Carlow-Kilkenny by-election. Users will be more engaged and have more confidence to make an informed vote and decision. Malcolm Noonan of the Green Party has said “Smartvote is the future of political campaigning!”
Co-founder, Gordon Rose, explained that SmartVote works so well because “users get up to speed on the issues and candidates in just 5-10 minutes, about the same time it takes to read one manifesto.”
The changing of Electoral boundaries for the upcoming election didn’t stop the Smartvote team from achieving their goal. They went to every county council and got the list of addresses for the new constituencies. Users just need to type in their street or town and Smartvote will tell them their constituency and their candidates. Smartvote went live on Wed 13th January and is available at http://www.smartvote.ie/