When special education teacher Aviva Rosman decided to run for local school counsel in Chicago, she called Alex Niemczewski to ask for her support. Her friend, who had always considered herself a well-informed voter, was caught off guard by the upcoming midterm elections. “I didn’t even know there was an election going on,” she recalls. Embarrassed, Niemczewski started to research the entire ballot, spending hours reading news articles and brushing up on policy issues affecting her local Chicago district. “I just basically had this problem I wanted to solve,” says the 29-year-old design consultant.
Niemczewski and Rosman realized they had stumbled onto a much bigger problem. “People know who they want to vote for president, but guess or leave the ballot blank when it comes to local office,” Niemczewski says. That’s when Ballot Ready—a mobile-friendly, online voter guide—was born. Type in your address and you’ll get a personalized ballot with every candidate, race, and referendum in your district for an upcoming election. “We aggregate background information so all voters can make complete, informed choices,” says Niemczewski, a member of Chicago’s WeWork Grant Park. The ballot also includes crowd-sourced information on each candidate’s stance on the issues, their relevant experience, their endorsements, and any pertinent news articles.
For the 2018 midterm elections, BallotReady will be available in all 50 states. About 40 percent of BallotReady users are Millennials, who historically don’t vote in local elections. Niemczewski hopes to change all that, saying that “when Millennial voters have easy access to voting information, all in one place, they are excited to cast an informed vote.”