Shadow Election is a non-partisan web tool for comparing election candidates with each other on topical issues and supporting issues and candidates in social media. Its first version was originally launched in Finland February 2011.
In Kenya the beta-version of Shadow Election was launched January 21 2013 when the nominations of the presidential candidates was confirmed.
TechMoran caught up with Juha Mattila, one of the co-founders, and this is what the guys have achieved so far.
Who are its founders?
Shadow Election was originally founded on march 2010 by two Finnish guys Alex Keskitalo and Juha Mattila. The voting advice applications are very popular in Finland and they have been used in Finnish elections since the late 90s. Alex had the original idea of a new kind of voting advice application back in 2005. The original idea was to evaluate all candidates in an equal platform based on the candidates´ opinions on issues.
Currently its team consists of 7 people from Finland, Kenya, UK and Tanzania:
We also have a small developer network in Kenya that we are in communication with.
What problem do you solve?
– We want to make national and global politics more transparent, engaging and accessible to all the people.
– We want to help people become more informed and engaged with politics and to provide them an easy, free and effective way to implement grassroots campaigning.
– The aim is also to level out the playing field for all the candidates. The candidates with lower campaign budgets do not have as good change to get their opinions heard in the mainstream media. Shadow Election wants to present all the candidates in an equal manner and apply same rules for them. This helps also the major candidates since by participating in an equal playing field with all candidates the mandate of the winning candidate will be stronger. We believe that respecting democracy and minorities is a characteristic of a good representative leader and will gain support beyond party boundaries.
– BIG PICTURE: The world gets more inter connected and we share many critical problems (climate change, energy, food, water, economy, population, immigration issues etc.). So national politics is becoming more relevant for the global audience every day. Thus the idea of the future Shadow Election is to filter the most popular political issues and people in each nation in the world. Up until now it has been experimented in national elections but the plan is to extend its use beyond election cycles and include all countries to it. So far it has been used in following elections:
Finland parliamentary elections 2011
Finland presidential elections 2012
USA presidential elections 2012
Kenya presidential elections 2013
How does it work?
It has three elements which are rating, voting and promoting. The platform is open for everyone in the world to use but naturally the citizens of the respective nations are the majority of users in the national elections.
1. Rating (comparing candidates with each other and finding out own favorite candidate)
A user can rate candidates opinions (in Kenyan version we are using mainly video content) on various political issues such as health care, education, security etc. By logging in with Facebook a user can also find out how his social network (Facebook friends) have rated the candidates´ answers. Also it is possible to see how the community have rated the opinions. The user can also share the ratings and interesting opinions and issues in Facebook.
2. Voting (showing support for own favorite candidate)
By logging in with Facebook it is possible for a user to cast a vote for a candidate. Each user has one vote that they can change when ever they want. They can also decide to undo their vote. Besides seeing the total numbers and percentages a user can also see how their Facebook friends have voted.
3. Promoting (promoting candidate to own social networks)
A user can promote his/her favorite candidate to his social networks by sharing the vote to Facebook pages and friends by using the sharing features of the application. It is an easy way to get more votes for the candidates in the application and improve the ranking of the candidate.
How many users so far?
We have very limited budget and have done hardly any marketing. The service has been in beta-test mode and we haven´t yet been able to make the user interface changes to make it available for larger audience.
In Finland we peaked over 8k visitors per day.
In USA and Kenya we have peaked over 2k visitors per day so far.
Is it a business venture, if so then what is your business model?
We are a Finland based social enterprise. The company is called Reality Creating Media Ltd. Our first priority is the cause of democracy and be loyal to stay non-partisan. Currently we are searching for funding partners and investigating potential business models to accelerate development pace and maintain operations. Partnerships with media houses and various advocacy groups is an option and maybe more campaigning features for users. But like said they are still under investigation.
Any other similar site anywhere?
So what will you do when elections are over?
– We will try to find partners to help with the global expansion of the service and to design it to work beyond election cycles.
– We are also discussing with Kenyan partners for maybe making it available for regional elections in Kenya and other African countries.
– One potential alternative is to make the project open source.
– We are also making a version for Pakistan elections 2013.
What else have done that is successful?
Find more info in kenya-election.com