Election Mall.com has been part of the political landscape for a decade, but its recent partnership with the software giant behind Windows makes it a game-changing force for electoral populism.
When Ravi Singh ran for local office in the Chicago suburbs in 1997, he cut a slightly unusual profile as a habitually “turban-clad” candidate, but had high hopes. Nontheless, despite being an early adopter of online campaigning he did not garner as much support—or traffic to his Website–as he had hoped.
Convinced that the Internet had the revolutionary potential to make the tools of campaigning—from yard signs and bumper stickers to online fundraising and GOTV strategies—available to everyone, he created Election Mall.com in 2000. Ten years later, his company is one of the country’s leading election technology firms.
“When we started off, we were a small company with one computer,” says Singh. Now, it is an innovative multinational technology firm dedicated to lowering barriers of entry for local candidates in unprecedented ways. “It is a dream come true,” the proud founder adds.
In partnership with Microsoft, Election Mall recently launched a product called “Campaign Cloud,” which allows candidates to create a Website, create and store a list of supporters, map out their districts, manage campaign events and import fundraising widgets that make managing funds and donors simple and easy.
The product is scalable and can be tailored to any campaign – with free versions of the software available to local candidates and more expensive packages for sale to larger campaigns. Furthermore, it is mobile; all data is cloud stored, as the product name suggests and can be accessed at any time from any computer. “We started Campaign Cloud in 2006 based on the notion that people would eventually get rid of their computer,” recalls Singh.
As CEO of Election Mall, Singh spends his time traveling the world and working with foreign governments to promote his brand of e-democracy. Singh’s enthusiasm for both his product and the future of campaigning is infectious. Election Mall has been actively beta testing the software in national-level races in Mexico, Brazil, Ukraine, Malaysia and Colombia. Next up: Chile.
“We have always believed that you can take the best of the business apps and if you design them in such a way and write original code, you can create a great political app,” says Singh. “It just took ten years to do it.”
It was worth the effort. Election Mall now has a voter database of over 20 million voters. During Colombia’s 2010 presidential race, the firm collected 11.6 million phone numbers in a 26-day period. Its total phone and email database includes over 70 million entries.
Election Mall’s greatest innovation, however, may be conceptual. As far back as 2004, when MySpace was exploding in popularity, Singh realized that social networking would soon change the way campaigns broadcast their messages. Today, the “retweet” and the Facebook wall conversation are primary examples of that phenomenon and its impact on the collective conversation.
“In 2008, [campaigns were] placing social networks on their site. In 2010, it has transformed into a social conversation,” says Singh. “I believe that social conversation will dominate 2012.” Singh’s predictions seem to be bearing out as the “social networker” becomes an ever-more indispensible campaign position.
For Election Mall, there are no off years. “We get campaigns every day,” notes Singh. With the June 2010 domestic launch of Campaign Cloud following its successful beta tests abroad, the firm expects to expand rapidly. Election Mall has indisputably lowered the bar of entry for candidates and, as a one-stop-shop for local and even regional candidates, Singh has helped make the Jeffersonian ideal of the citizen politican that much more attainable.
It is a safe bet that Election Mall will continue to service the needs of candidates and campaigns, large and small, well into the future.
Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org