During the 2020 election, a Black-owned platform is streamlining the information that helps voters make educated choices on their ballots.
Wen-Kuni Céant and Jordan Wilson cofounded Politicking while classmates at Howard University. They created an app that is designed to galvanize millennial voters to participate on a local, state, and federal level, and create space for nonpartisan political discourse.
Back in January, Céant was one of the socially-minded startup founders that pitched as a member of a recent cohort of the Baltimore accelerator Conscious Venture Lab.With Election Day upon us, we caught up with Céant to talk about the work of getting info to voters in 2020, and accountability.
In short, Politicking gives users the rundown of everything that will be on their ballot.
“The foremost thing that makes us special is we are nonpartisan,” said Céant. “I think a lot of the media outlets of today, the resources of today, are heavily swayed to the left and to the right. And we are just not like that. We really are adamant about providing a place for civil discourse.”
The founders pride themselves on creating a space with the app where Democrats, Republicans, third party voters, and independents can all discuss about the issues they care about.
“We’ve gotten some pushback for that,” Céant said of being open to all parties, and trying to be as nonpartisan as possible. She feels a lot of people say they want nonpartisanship, until they’re confronted with opposing ideas.
“In reality, the moment they see someone that doesn’t align with their views, sometimes they walk away from the platform,” she said.
But for the followers that stay, Céant feels Politicking scratches an itch for users they can’t find elsewhere.
“We always try to include diverse voices,” said Céant. “We always try to promote the fact that we know that Black and Brown people are not a monolith, and we don’t vote the same, and that’s okay.”
The app uses an API to source info on candidates straight from the ballot. If a candidate went through the official application process to be listed on a ballot, then their information should be in the Politicking app.
There’s also info to help voters navigate the election process. With a pandemic that has more mail-in ballots and a potentially longer period of vote-counting, the team worked to set expectations, as well. On Election Day, the app is releasing graphics to explain the scenarios that could lead to a Trump win or Biden win, or a race that’s too close to call.
“The biggest thing we’ve been trying to pump out to our users is that they may not get their election result by the end of the day,” said Céant.
Don’t know what time polls close near you?
— Politicking (@politickingapp) November 3, 2020
Equally, Céant and the five-member Politicking team don’t see their work to bring people closer to the democratic process as being completed on November 3. Rather, it’s just getting started. After the results are in and officeholders are determined, she said, it’s time to hold elected officials accountable. The app will have accountability guides to track candidates’ performance, based on their campaign promises.
“People get disengaged after Election Day,” said Céant “Some people don’t even look up to see if the people they voted for won the day after. That’s a huge problem. With Politicking, we’re looking to ensure that engagement and that accountability on a day-to-day basis.”
For the startup’s five-member team, that means continuing to expand the channels where they are reaching people, as well.
“Politicking has grown so much larger than the app,” said Céant. “It’s really a multimedia platform. Whether that be Politicking TV, social media engagement, there are so many ways we plan on keeping our users engaged.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.-30-