Sean Parker’s Brigade voting app unveils social ballot guide

Maybe your blood pressure isn’t high enough. Enter Brigade, the social media app for politics, with just what you need: another place to argue about politics.

But also, the “world’s first voter network,” which Sean Parker of Facebook and Napster fame co-founded and launched last year, has just unveiled a ballot guide for more than 13,000 federal and state races and measures. This makes the app more useful in case, say, you live in California and have to grapple with the 17 state propositions you’re supposed to make an informed decision about in November, on top of voting for your local representatives and measures.

“We’ve done the hard work of combining reams of government data and complex voter-matching algorithms to deliver consumers a simple tool to spur peer-to-peer interactions that can drive real-world voter turnout,” Brigade co-founder and CEO Matt Mahan said in a statement.

Here’s how it works. You can use Brigade on the web or download its iOS or Android app. You pledge to vote for a certain candidate for president, certain lawmakers and initiatives. You take quizzes to state your positions on issues ranging from immigration to the economy to taxes. Brigade can then make recommendations based on how your social network and contacts are voting, and how aligned your positions are with theirs.

“It’s lightly applied social pressure” that helps with civic engagement, said Andrew Noyes, Brigade’s vice president for communications, in a phone interview Wednesday.

Users can also choose to engage in debates. The app keeps track of how many debates they’ve won, and assigns them an impact score based on how many people they’ve convinced to change their mind or to take a side on certain issues. They can also recruit vote pledges for candidates and measures, and earn points for doing so. Brigade is giving away a trip to the presidential inauguration to the top recruiter.

Like on Facebook or Twitter — and especially in this political climate — the debates on the app aren’t for the shy or faint-hearted. Noyes says Brigade mostly relies on self-policing, although the company has a community support team.

“Some of the debates do get heated, but we have real-name culture plus,” he said. Brigade users use their real names and their profiles show where they’re registered to vote.

After the big national election Nov. 8, Brigade will take a look at how voter records matched up with how Brigade users pledged to vote, and how its tool might have affected turnout.

Noyes said Brigade Media, which is based in San Francisco and has about 50 employees, will also continue to work on improving its tools for future local and state elections, where he believes “the most impact can be had by individual voters.”

Besides Parker, the other investors in Brigade are a couple of well-known names in tech: CEO Marc Benioff and investor Ron Conway.

Other apps for these political times include Voter and We the People – Election 2016.


Above: Screen shots from the Brigade app. (Courtesy Brigade)


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