“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Ben Franklin
What if I told you that you could work to repair American democracy, while simultaneously learning about topics you find interesting? In short, ActiVote needs your voice. While we are highly focused on creating as much high-quality content as possible, there are just too many topics across too broad a spectrum in American politics for us to possibly cover it all. That’s where you come in. You are likely a passionate advocate who wishes to improve participation in our democracy, just like the team here at ActiVote. You may be especially passionate about one or more specific topics. Whether it’s tax policy, the environment, social equity, infrastructure improvement in your town or county: everything is important to make our country a better place.
A week ago, two of our co-founders attended a political function—there, as they gave an ActiVote demo to an interested fellow attendee, as he browsed the questions, he said: “What if I could send you some material regarding a specific topic I would like to see covered in the app?” Well, we would love your input and we would be happy to publish any questions received from our users. We are happy to help make sure that they will meet the quality standards and format that we cherish. ActiVote is now accepting submissions that particularly motivated users may want to see included.
ActiVote wants to inform people about any and all of these topics in a clear, non-partisan and factual manner. Then, we would like everyone to share their opinion on that particular topic in a depolarizing way. There is no right answer, the only goal is to present relevant information for a policy topic that is narrow in scope, and then to be objective about how that information is presented. As you may have noticed in all our Daily Questions, that depolarization is accomplished by having 5 answers to choose from instead of the typical yes / no or for / against choice you see in many other surveys.
Let’s look at the very first topic covered in our app as example which was about the Federal Minimum Wage.
The FMW question does not ask you to simply be for or against a $15 minimum wage, which would be a polarizing question. Instead, it gives you five options ranging from “leave to the states, keep at $7.25, raise to $9, raise to $11.75 and raise to $15”, basically covering the spectrum of opinions. The current results of the ActiVote poll shows that the opinions are split, interestingly, while only a minority favors raising the minimum wage to $15, a large majority does favor raising the minimum wage in some way. Clearly, using 5 possible answers on a spectrum shows what the country thinks with much more diversity on this topic than a binary for or against a $15 minimum wage.
Another angle to our Daily Questions is that we try to tackle one narrowly defined topic at the time. Thus, while you will not likely find a question about how to solve Poverty in the US, you can find questions about programs aimed at the poor, such as Food Stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Federal Minimum Wage and more. Looking at these individual topics allows all users to express their nuanced opinions.
We hope everyone enjoys answering these questions, while instantly seeing what others think, as well as seeing where it gets you plotted in the Matrix and the Universe.
So what makes up a question for the ActiVote app?
1) Title. Just a headline describing the topic
2) Infographic. A visual (graph, picture, collection of key facts) to illustrate something important about this topic.
3) Short Description: 1-2 sentences summarizing the question for those who want to skip immediately to the answers.
4) Educational Piece. A factual text about the topic often including some history and some key statistics. Typically only 100-200 words.
5) Opinions. A short description of at least 2 of the most common heard opinions about the topic from two sides of the political spectrum. Typically formulated as “Some believe … Others believe …”.
6) Five Answers. Five short answers that span the political spectrum, typically going from progressive to conservative or conservative to progressive.
If you are passionate about a particular topic, we would love to publish your question! Do you have an environmental topic for Earth Day? Do you have a tax topic for Tax Day? Or, do you have a topic that could be published any time on a topic you are passionate about. In all cases, please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to work with you to get it published in ActiVote.
Let’s help all Americans actively participate in our democracy and through the daily questions “Plot Your Politics”.