3 Chicago companies helping you cast a more informed ballot

by James Risley
October 26, 2016

A democracy is built on participation from its citizens — something many Chicago tech companies recognize and respect. As issues become more complex, it can be harder to know what’s important when submitting your ballot. But various Chicagoans are helping to close the knowledge gap in the electoral system by informing users about all the important issues.


Elections aren’t just about the big names — races for Congress, county board seats and even things like parks commissioners often have a more immediate effect on your life than the presidential race.

But you’ll have to dig a little deeper than your average Facebook post to find info on those smaller races. BallotReady helps voters make informed choices on everything on the ballot by collecting relevant info on candidates, ballot measures and endorsements.


Understanding the biggest factors in the American election system can be tough. And jumping into important issues can be tough when politicians and their backers are spinning every chance they get. Parallax News, which launched earlier this month, is an email brief about the country’s biggest questions, from What Could Go Wrong in Mosul? to Can A.I. Development Be Controlled?

“We created Parallax to expose readers to viewpoints they wouldn’t normally see, and probably don’t agree with,” said publisher Michael Daley in a statement. “This can lead to constructive debate and a more nuanced understanding of society, regardless of your political beliefs.”

By offering three perspectives on just one big topic each day, Parallax gives users more details to make informed decisions. With social networks pushing us further apart (and further from the facts in some cases), a balanced daily look at both sides of an argument could calm tensions while also leading to voters making the right choice for their needs.


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Sometimes, you need to go straight to the source to find out how each candidate will vote on issues you care about. We can’t all be Ken Bone, but FutureStates uses AI to help you learn more about a candidate's positions through a chat-like interface.

Just pick a presidential candidate and you get a one-on-one conversation with a presidential frontrunner’s computerized presence, based on their past statements. In addition to the website, users can chat with virtual versions of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Telegram.


Image via Shutterstock, featured companies

Is your startup doing something special for election day? Let us know with a tip or a tweet @BuiltInChicago

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