Voter participation in local and municipal elections is low. Of the nationwide voting block, a mere 27 percent take part in their respective local elections. This number is only more glaring when the 500,000 local, electable positions across the US are in charge of $2 trillion collectively. This is spending power which could prove transformative provided it’s funneled into the communities and institutions that need it most.
Enter Arvind Sridhar, Shivesh Mehrotra, and Lucien Gaitskell. Together they developed Candivote, an online platform intended to raise participation in local elections by matching voters with candidates whose policies appeal to them. For the team, the creation of this platform is particularly timely; Sridhar and Mehrotra are both incoming college freshmen at Brown and Yale University, respectively, and Gaitskell is a rising senior at Providence’s Wheeler School.
Candivote itself is the product of many long days of research. First launched in early June, it was refined in July as they reached out to local candidates, who answer the same questions as voters to ensure accuracy in the matching process. These questions take the form of scenarios regarding budget delegation, asking participants to designate whether they agree or disagree and rank the level of importance. Most importantly, this questionnaire is free and therefore accessible; most recently, the platform was used in the mayoral elections in Cranston and Warwick, but Sridhar has high hopes for the app’s future.
“We also plan to explore the possibility of applying our ‘ground-up’ mentality to state and national elections as we continue to grow,” Sridhar says. “Ideally, we hope that Candivote will become a tool to make all elections across the country transparent, increasingly equal, and more representative of our values and ideals as voters. Who knows, maybe Candivote will be available to use for the 2024 presidential election in a few years!”