Last November, Emily Kuhn was struck with a terrible epiphany: she was staring at a bunch of names she didn’t recognize. And worse, she had to select people from these names to represent her. Emily was looking at her ballot in a polling booth. In that moment, out of exasperation she thought, there must be a candidate app for this. There wasn’t.
There is now, thanks to Emily.
The truth is, we’ve all been Emily in a polling booth, and likely more times than we’d care to admit. How often have you cast your ballot and felt guilty because of how little you knew about the names staring back at you?
Emily Kuhn is the Chief Design Officer of a new bit of civic tech called 1myVote, a free, non-partisan smartphone app introduced earlier this summer for iPhones. 1myVote is easy to use and includes each candidate’s short bio, three main issues, and a link to the candidate’s official website for more information.
Emily learned to program back in 2000, and went to graduate school at the University of Minnesota to learn about tech adoption rates across society. And although she has experience either programming code or partnering with others, 1myVote is her first independent app where she hired a firm to code it on the smartphone platform.
The app has information on federal, State, and a few local elections for the 2016 election year, with plans to expand in 2018. And while currently Emily personally reviews each official candidate website and inputs their top three platform issues, she is open to partnering with another service in the future to help automate the process.
So how did it all come together for Emily? She attributes friends, family, and VoteRunLead. “I have received a lot of support from friends and family over the past year,” she said.
In particular, her college professor, Dr. Roboery; their marketing intern, John Shearer; and her husband, Sam, who has been “greatly supportive from the start.”
The Tipping Point: VoteRunLead
Emily attended a VoteRunLead national leadership summit in St. Louis in May 2015 called National Go Lead. It was at that conference where she first shared the 1myVote smartphone app in a public space. Emily told us that the supportive learning environment of the summit encouraged her to publicly share her techie skills and gain insight on various topics for the app.
She tells us that, “at the conference, national experts offered me on-the-spot mentoring for the 1myVote smartphone app including pricing of the app, social media marketing training, and start-up incubator coaching.”
Not without its challenges
All great new ideas encounter bumps in the road, and 1myVote is no different… but perhaps not in the way you might think. Emily shared with VoteRunLead that the biggest issue for the app is in scaling the market to increase voter awareness while growing the national volume of candidate information in a sustainable way. She planned to ramp up over time after piloting the app in two states by the November 2016 election, going national in 2018, but to her delight, there has been so much interest that she has accelerated her project timeline to include Governor and Senator candidates in all states by the 2016 spring primaries. We love her audacious spirit!
Did we mention Emily is considering running for office?
As if creating an app that could potentially disrupt the way voters learn about candidates, Emily is considering becoming the candidate herself!
“I have wanted to run for office since I was in primary school. My local Congressman had an office adjacent to my school and I would ask my parents what a Congressman does for work. They said he meets with people in his district and make new laws to better the American Public. I was ready to serve, too!”
Currently, 1myVote is available only on iPhones. It will be expanded to Android phones in January 2016. Emily welcomes feedback and partnership opportunities, and can be contacted via email at emily_kuhn[at]hotmail.com.