In November 2012, a record 18.2 million Californians were registered to vote. Last month, a little over 18 percent of them cast a ballot in the state’s primary election, making it among the worst ever in terms of voter turnout. At a time when issues like energy, the economy, and education are driving concerned conversations statewide, why did voters stay home? And why is this trend growing more prevalent across the country?
These are good questions and the answers are complicated. But the short version is that people feel disconnected from their government and disenfranchised from the electoral process that selects their representatives. Big interest groups and big money increasingly determine candidates’ viability long before citizens vote in a primary.
At the same time, neither government offices nor political campaigns have fully adapted to how people communicate today, further widening the gap between the people and their government. As a result, voters don’t have the information they need to make informed decisions during elections, and even less information about what happens after.
We think there’s a huge opportunity to leverage technology to tackle this problem and that’s what we hope to do at Brigade. Although we’re still working on our platform, and we’ve been pretty quiet about what it’s going to look like, our recent acquisition of the company that owns Causes, the world’s largest online campaigning platform, and political advocacy startup Votizen, sure got people talking.
The acquisition adds the expertise needed to build online civic infrastructure powerful enough to meaningfully elevate peoples’ voices and improve the relationship between elected officials and their constituents. And it’s just one of the early steps we’re taking to develop a product that will be nonpartisan and equally accessible to citizens, campaigns and candidates of all political stripes.
As we build Brigade, we’re excited to talk to and learn from strategists, technologists, advocates, and academics who have worked in this space for quite some time and have important insights. We’re also looking for engineers, product managers, and designers who share our vision of creating an easy, effective, and enjoyable platform that brings political power back to the people. So, if you know of anyone who fits the bill, send them our way.
Matt Mahan is CEO of Brigade and previously served as CEO of Causes. Hear him speak at CampaignTech West on July 22.