Mere hours are left before the polls open for the Kansas City Missouri, elections — but are you informed about the candidates?
According to one Kansas City entrepreneur, millennial voters aren’t getting the information they need to make an educated vote — and he’s trying to change that with 1MinuteCandidate.co, a company that aims to quickly inform voters about candidates with 60-second videos.
Voter turnout among millennials has been extremely low, especially in municipal elections. According to an analysis of Kansas City election board data by local civic organization mySidewalk, three times more people over the age of 80 voted in the April 9 primaries than people under 30.
Matthew Marcus is a Kansas City entrepreneur who got the idea the last time he was standing in a polling booth in Kansas.
“I went to vote and I looked at a ballot and I didn't know about any of these people, and it’s because I don’t have enough time to educate myself. I know I should vote, and I want my vote to count, but how can it count if I don’t know anything about these candidates?” Marcus asked.
He found himself wishing that he could click on a short video of each candidate to learn about them. So he jotted the idea down.
Marcus pitched his idea at Kansas City Startup Weekend at the end of May, won the competition, and within weeks 1MinuteCandidate.co was live.
Marcus says that the timing was serendipitous; within a month of winning Kansas City Startup Weekend, city council elections were to take place.
Marcus and his team then connected with Mayor Sly James, and James agreed to upload his own video.
From there, they reached out to all the candidates on the ballot for the June 23 City Council elections, asking them to address millennials directly. So far, 14 candidates have uploaded their personal videos to the website.
“It’s a novel concept, a lot of them didn’t know how to approach it,” Marcus says.
Some of the videos play like political ads, while others are spontaneous and off-the-cuff. Third District At-Large candidate Quinton Lucas even included his cell phone number in his video.
Marcus says that the important thing is to try to relate to millennial voters, which has been a challenge for many politicians.
“The politicians are speaking one language and the millennials are listening to another,” Marcus says. “The thing about millennials is that they care, but you have to show them why you care so they support you.”
Marcus hopes to continue to expand 1 Minute Candidate for future elections, but he wanted to start on a smaller scale.
“We’re still in such a conceptual phase, were not even a company yet. When you build a startup you do it from a lean approach. Don't build something big until you know what your customers and your users really want,” he says.
So if you can spare 60 seconds of your time before the polls close Tuesday evening, you may just want to check it out.