A new political Tinder-style speed-dating app aimed at improving youth voter turnout looks to get past the "politics of politics" and connect people with their political matches.
The collective estimates around 60 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds didn't vote in the 2011 election, which is higher than official statistics which put the figure at 42 percent.
Either way, Candidate creator Hannah Duder says more needs to be done to get young voters engaged in politics.
The 22-year-old law and accounting student from Christchurch says her idea was born out of the Shoulder Tap initiative run by Kiwi entrepreneur Derek Handley.
She was tasked with offering a solution to a problem, and chose to look at low voter turnout. Ms Duder says people she talked to felt politics was mired in scandal rather than dealing facts and policies.
"A lot of the youths say the reasons they weren't voting was everything that was available to them, to let them know things like what a party is standing for or even who the parties are, was so boring and jargon-filled and biased – they didn't want to touch it," she says.
"If they tried to do any research themselves, all the stuff that would come back would be either quite scandalous or an opinion piece – it's very hard to sort through all of that and get a simple 'here are the policies, here's what they're standing for and this is the party that looks like it could be for you'."
Political party websites aren't much clearer, she says.
She says she was the only one of her friends and flatmates who bothered to vote last election.
So with the help of a $10,000 seed grant as part of the Shoulder Tap initiative and digital design company The Common Room, Candidate was developed.
Ms Duder says it's meant to be "like a first date" and not meant to be taken too seriously.
"It's designed to give the user a first look into a political party and get them interested enough that they'll want to find out more about that party," she says.
It has a similar functionality to popular online dating app Tinder, in which people swipe left and right depending on whether they like the look of a person – or in this case a policy.
Users are shown seven policies about a number of issues, such as student allowances and loans, but are not shown the party.
The descriptions are relatively short – 160 characters or less – and free of jargon where possible.
It is also an opportunity for young people to broaden their political horizons, especially those who may have been told how to vote by their parents.
"Even if they get matched with a party and [users say] 'no way was I ever going to vote for them', it's opening they're eyes and gets them thinking 'well, hold on; maybe I should be voting for that political party'," she says.
While the app is aimed at young voters between 18 and 24, it could still prove helpful to those who have a few elections under their belts.
"If you've been voting for the one party your whole life and you've had 10 opportunities to vote, and you're now getting told by an app that's not the right party for you – parties change and their policies change, and people should reassess it every election," Ms Duder says.
The app will be launched at the AUT University campus in Auckland this afternoon with a launch party later tonight.
source: newshub archive