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VoteNote: a new age for campaigning

by Rachel Muzaic September 1, 2015
VoteNote: a new age for campaigning

Concordia students launch mobile app to help inform youth on federal election

Voting in Canada’s upcoming federal elections has just been made easier thanks to the creation of VoteNote, a free mobile application that not only holds information about each party’s candidates, but tells you exactly where you need to go.

Created by Concordia journalism student Matthew Heuman, VoteNote provides information related to the federal election including: which riding you belong to, which candidate is running in your area, where your polling station is, and what documents you need to vote, all at your finger tips. The inspiration, Heuman said, came from his dismay at how rarely young people participate in politics, particularly in elections.

“Trying to figure out how to motivate youth to vote has been a huge issue for me over the years, as I see it as the only way to have a true democracy in this country,” Heuman said. “When only a certain segment of the population votes, the balance of views will tilt and, as a student, many of the issues that affect my age demographic were not being represented.”

Heuman—seeing the app as the perfect opportunity to reach out to young adults who spend lots of time on their devices—met with friend and developer Devin Calado to bring the idea to life.

By paying a $150 fee, party candidates are able to set up a profile on the app that is separated into subsections including About Me, My Party and Me, My Riding, and Additional Information. Thierry Tardif, also a Concordia journalism student who jumped on board the project to translate the document into French, and later became the media spokesperson, said that by digitalizing campaigns, they hope to move out of what he called a “dinosaur era.”

“A lot of Canadian citizens, particularly youth, just see billboards in the street. They see a party but don’t actually know what they’re all about,” said Tardiff. “So what we’re trying to do is put all that information in one place that can be consulted anytime, anyplace rather than waiting until receiving mail telling them the procedures to vote or where to vote.”

The VoteNote team has high hopes for the future of the app and already has working relationships with a variety of groups whose goals also involve better informing voters. This includes I Can Party, a website that showcases each party’s stance on any particular issue so that people can compare their approaches. VoteNote also has an Uber Canada button which allows those who click it to arrange for a ride to and from a polling station in their riding.

Despite the complexity of creating an app, Heuman said the support, and success as a result, has been great.

“The best support has come from people all across Canada who are telling us we are doing a great thing. Organizations and companies have been great in reaching out to us to help encourage our goals,” Heuman said. “Politicians have been great, [Tardif] and myself talk with candidates regularly and will probably speak to many of them this election.”

Tardif says they are hoping to work out a similar project for municipal elections.

“We have big plans for the future of VoteNote, but for now we’re keeping quiet on those and just focusing on this election,”  said Heuman.

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