Vote In Or Out: A Homegrown Platform For Well Informed Voters

Some of the Vote In or Out members with former Senator Hillary Clinton in 2019. (Photo via Vote In Or Out, with permission)

BROOKLYN – A group of neighbors and friends from Brooklyn believe that though it is imperative that people vote in the elections this November, it is even more important that they know who they are voting for and the ideas that the candidates stand for. With elections just around the corner, they created a social media platform– Vote In or Out.

“The 2020 Election is right around the corner and primaries are heating up. We have a chance to reach millions of people in this country and increase voter participation and we’ve done so by combining all the best features of all the existing platforms they are already familiar with,” Lisa Chin Mollica, 40, founder of Vote In or Out told Bklyner. “Our platform uses what works from proven apps using familiar features to create an effective voting experience for our users. The platform utilizes the ease of the Tinder swipe to allow the user to browse through candidates and quickly discover those who hold similar stances as them on pressing issues.”

Mollica, 40, lives in Marine Park, and decided to put her over 20 years of experience in product design and growing startups to good use following the Stoneman Douglass school shooting. So, she got a Brooklyn team together and created Vote In or Out.

Vote In or Out is a social media platform where people can learn about candidates, research their stances on issues, and encourage others to vote. It is a nonpartisan effort where users make a case for why they oppose or support a candidate/ issue. Then, other users can “upvote” posts they agree with or think is a valid factual assertion, or “downvote” posts they disagree with or think is fake news. Also, users can fact check any post with their own opposing argument and add their own link to vouch for the veracity of the claim being made. Users can learn about the candidates and then choose who they want to Vote In or Vote Out based on what they learn.

Vote In or Out members (with founder/CEO third from left) standing with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. (Photo via Vote In or Out, with permission)

“It also has the scrutinizing features of Reddit in that every post the user sees will be rated by the user community for credibility and accuracy,” Mollica continued. “It has the platform mechanics of Twitter in that it can amplify media and messages. It has the social hooks of Instagram in that advocates and leaders can build throngs of followers to influence on the facts around the issues that matter.”

Michael Sciaraffo, 39, has been a Brooklynite all his life; born in Bensonhurst, raised in Gravesend, and moved back to Bensonhurst. Currently, he is the Senior Analyst for NYC Parks, and he’s the Political Director at Vote In or Out, something dear to his heart.

“So people CAN ‘Be the Change’. That’s why I’m so passionate about taking an active role in civic engagement. I want all people to realize that they too have the potential within them to ‘Be the Change,'” he told Bklyner. “We believe and hope that Vote In or Out will help cut down on all the noise and instead elevate fact-based, peer-reviewed research to allow voters to find the information they need to be better informed. We want to see a better-informed electorate, we want to elevate everyone’s voice so that they know that what they think matters.”

“We want to provide an avenue for young voters, for minority populations, for those whose voices don’t get heard and for the most marginalized members of our society to be able to amplify their voices and affect change they wish to see,” he continued. “And ultimately, we want to empower all citizens to be able to ‘Be the Change’ by using our platform.”

This November, elections will be different; they will take place amid a pandemic. Sciaraffo explained that some of the top issues Americans cared about pre-pandemic – were healthcare, income inequality, climate change, and gun control – have been brought into focus by the pandemic.

Vote In or Out members before the pandemic. (Photo via Vote In or Out, with permission)

“The virus has only exacerbated those initial concerns and made some issues extremely important to even more voters, as well as made some other issues of concern less important, given recent events,” he said. “With millions out of work and unable to secure adequate housing or food for their families, and with the uncertainty of the virus and its health implications for them as well, the amount of people concerned about both the economy and healthcare has tripled since February. The handling of the COVID-19 outbreak has risen to one of the top issues of concern to voters, as they are all intertwined.”

The Vote In or Out team is encouraging people to check out the platform so they are prepared to go vote in the November elections.

“I truly believe that it is possible to change the world with a well-designed product. I believe that building the right mechanisms can help connect people in new ways that can drive change. I believe access to information will shed light onto the darkest areas of corruption and greed that have plagued our civilization since the dawn of time,” Mollica wrote in a blog post.

“I believe in a world where people can actually come together to rally behind issues, where the government can more accurately reflect the will of the people, where lobbyists and dark money have less room to operate.”

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Zainab Iqbal

Zainab is a staff reporter at Bklyner who sometimes writes poetry in her free time || zainab@bklyner.com

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