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New Website Matches Voters With Candidates

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Posted at 10:32 PM, Aug 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-08 04:46:12-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - What if turning to your computer before hitting the polls could prevent that feeling almost every voter has experienced?

“When you're in the booth and you see all these names you’re kind of like oohh should I have done more research?” said Kevin Gotkin, laughing. He considers himself well-versed in politics, but says there are still sometimes small races on the ballot that surprise him.

“Ideally I would spend time researching every one but there’s not enough time,” he said.

That’s the idea behind a local website which officially launched last month after a year-long pilot.

Gotkin tried it out Monday, logging on and checking off his top political priorities, reading them aloud.

“Civil rights, education, gun rights, poverty, social issues, women’s rights,” he said.

The website, called Votus, then asks him a series of questions. They can be more general like should marijuana be legalized and hyper local such as questions about moving the jail and his thoughts on charter schools.

“People aren't voting cause they’re really frustrated with the process,” said Votus Political Outreach Director Richard Exton Jr.

Exton says Votus could help by filling a major void.

“When you go on your computer and Google “Nashville local election” what pops up does not give you a comprehensive view of what’s going on,” he said.

Originally aimed at connecting Millennials to the political process, the website has morphed to a launch pad for anyone with a smart phone.

After voters finish their quiz they're matched with the candidates who answered the exact same questions. Candidates also have the option to fill out a full candidate profile, explaining their beliefs on the issues. Votus staff say this is a way smaller campaigns can carve out a web presence for free.

“They might not be able to devote $4 million of their own money to a race but they can take 10 minutes (to) fill out a few issues about what they believe,” Exton said.

For Kevin it's a useful starting point.

“This sounds helpful,” he said, “it could be like a beginning to a political research kind of thing and then you can go into and look at the various issues.”