Change.org, founded in 2007, long ago became the go-to place for people wanting to capture the attention of corporate giants, as well as for local activists looking to effect change in their communities. Indeed, the San Francisco-based company now counts 130 million registered users around the globe – 35 million of them in the U.S. – and 30,000 campaigns are launched every month on its platform.
In one very recent high-profile case, a Change.org petition asked President Obama to pardon the two men on which the Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer” centers. (Though the petition garnered more than 350,000 signatures by late last week, the men will remain in prison for now; the president can only pardon those who’ve committed federal crimes.)
Now, using its considerable power, Change.org is setting out to transform the process of voting. Specifically, a new mobile platform it has developed called Change Politics should enable voters to make more informed choices on election day. Not only can anyone submit questions directly to candidates through the platform, but they can easily find endorsements from the people and organizations they trust, as well as create a personalized ballot guide to take with them to the polls on their smartphones.
It’s a great development for voters like me, who often scramble with what to do once ushered into a voting booth, having waited until the last minute to learn about issues that may be less central.
And I’m in the majority of voters, says Change.org founder Ben Rattray, who calls the”user experience” of casting a vote in America “terrible, and pretty much unchanged since the founding of the republic. Think about it,” he says. “Paper ballots. Dozens of races with candidates you’ve mostly never heard of, or heard terrible things, and with whom you’ve had no direct communication at all. If voting were a company, it would have gone out of business a long time ago.”
We in the U.S. are stuck with it, alas, but Change Politics — a global effort — is a smart attempt at improving the practice for the 80 percent of people who are expected to walk into a voting booth with a smartphone this year; whomever owns that real estate could well become a powerful force in politics.
If you’re interested in learning more about the program, this video neatly sums up how the whole thing works.