Use Chicago Tech to Get Ready for the Election

Photograph courtesy of Becky McCray. Photograph courtesy of Becky McCray. To put it simply, this election cycle has been exhausting. It’s coming to an end and we even made a mixtape to celebrate. Tomorrow is election day and we’ll soon know who our next president will be. Is it going to be Hillary Clinton or is it going to be Donald Trump? We’ll probably have the answer within the next 48 hours. At this point, you probably know who you’re going to vote for. But beyond the presidency, there’s a whole realm of other candidates and causes that require your consideration. What are your thoughts on the races for senate, congress, and other public offices? That seemingly endless list of judges on the ballot. Do you know who they are and what they stand for? Where do you stand on the various referendums? Researching all of those things can be an enormous task. Several Chicago-based websites are up to the challenge and want to help you make knowledgeable decisions. 2016_11_ballotready

Ballot Ready

Ballot Ready believes that it shouldn’t be an ordeal to be informed, so they’re gathered data for all of the candidates and measures on your ballot and present it to you without bias in a format that is easy to understand. How it works is that you go to the site and input your address. Based on your address, your ballot and all the things on it will appear. From there, you can compare each of the candidates so you can make an educated decision. The comparison view starts with a simple cliffnote biography, but expands so you can look at where they stand on the issues and who has endorsed them. Once you’re done with your research, you can print it or save it to your device and take it with you when you vote. Ballot Ready launched last year for the 2015 mayoral elections and was a hit. Such a hit, that they were able to secure $30,000 in funding from the University of Chicago Social New Venture Challenge and expanded. According to Quartz, they’re in ten states this election cycle: Arizona, Colorado, California, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.

Illinois Judges Mobile Guide

A quick project by the prolific Dan Sinker, the Illinois Judges Mobile Guide is a phone or tablet ready list to help you make sense of that massive catalog of judges near the end of your ballot. The Committee to Elect Qualified Judges, a non-partisan organization that aims to educate voters about judicial candidates, simplified the most recent evaluation report of the Chicago Council of Lawyers. Using the Committee’s simplified data, Sinker created a easily understandable web page to tell you if judge running for reelection in Cook County is qualified or not.   2016_11_futurestatesapp


Do you want to sit down and have a conversation with the candidates before you go in tomorrow? With FutureStates you can. Sort of. The gist of it is that FutureStates is a locally developed chatbot that lets you talk to AI approximated versions of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson in something that is somewhat reminiscent of Facebook Messenger. You load up one of the candidates and ask about policy or whatever comes to mind. Once you ask something, the app searches through its archive of speech transcripts, videos, social media, and interviews to come up with an answer that resembles something the candidate would actually say.
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Justin Freeman