By KYW community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Silicon Valley tech startup company that focuses on crunching election data is delving into local politics for the first time with Philadelphia’s upcoming primary.
The company has launched a web site to educate voters on all the candidates for Philadelphia mayor, City Council, judgeships, and more. It includes pictures, lists of endorsements, donor data, video speeches, and other information on each candidate.
“The aim is to make sure we are covering every single candidate so voters are able to be educated in a nonpartisan way to understand who the candidates are and learn more about them,” says Liz Jaff, who works for Crowdpac.
She says the company’s goal is to take political power away from big-money donors and give it to the people, by “kickstarting” candidates.
They score each candidate based on their donors and their record. Crowdpac also provides details on each office that’s up for grabs.
“For example, here’s how many years they’re running, here’s what the salary is, because it’s really important to engage in what’s going on locally,” Jaff says.
The web site allows voters to build their own electronic ballot and e-mail it to themselves, and share it on social media or with friends.
In the future, Jaff adds, Crowdpac hopes to be able to allow small donors to create their own crowdfunded PACs around issues they care about, such as education or public safety.
“A donor could put in $20, and pledge that money if a candidate makes an issue a part of their platform,” says Jaff, “and others donor could do that too, and then a candidate would say, ‘I want that money so I’ll take on that issue.’ It’s about fighting super PACs.”
On Friday, Jaff will join local millienial-run organizations (including Influencing Action Movement and Unity in the Community) for Voter Education Week event in Philadelphia. It takes place in the City Council Caucus Room of City Hall, from 10 to 11am.
“Crowdpac is an awesome tool — it’s nonpartisan,” says Felicia Harris, president and CEO of IAM. “We also like Committee of Seventy’s web site that allows you to enter your address and find your polling place.”
Harris’ group is launching a social media campaign, #MissingVotePHL, to encourage people to share their stories about why they vote.
“My hope is that voters will be inspired to get out and vote,” says Harris.