I.T. Girl: Free app provides local political info

By KATELYN ROBERTS

We’ve all seen “Feel the Bern” merchandise, “I’m with Her” T-shirts and “Make America Great Again” baseball caps decked out on babies, students, Uber drivers and your racist grandpa.

Social media has also enjoyed the strongest influence ever in a presidential election. The candidates know this, and use it to their advantage.

For instance, Donald Trump utilized his social media accounts instead of paying $2 billion in advertising, according to a study by mediaQuant.

Researchers and strategists agree the quickest way to make news is by posting it directly to voters.

University of Arizona freshman Britanee Hudson, 23, and many others use Facebook as their vehicle for election information.

“I don’t watch the news,” Hudson said. “I, like most millennials, don’t have cable and have no interest in biased, fear-mongering media that I seem to find whenever the news does happen to be on.”

Hudson admits she’s not as knowledgeable as she’d like to be on Tucson politics but said, “I will be by election day.”

She began following politics after hearing a speech by a Democratic candidate for Arizona attorney general.

“I first became abnormally interested in local politics for my age in 2014 because I got the opportunity to hear Felecia Rotellini speak in Mesa,” she said.

Hudson was impassioned by Rotellin’s stance on immigration reform, so “started looking in depth with other local representatives as well.” She uses sites like Ballotpedia.org to research bills.

Oftentimes, however, voters don’t have enough information to make informed decisions about local politics.

This is where apps like Countable come in.

Countable keeps users up to date on local politics, whether you’re a student trying to ace a class or a citizen who wants to learn more about local issues.

Wired magazine calls it an “an easier way to pester your local congressmen.”

Countable is available for Android and iOS. Sign up for free, enter your zip code and select your interests. You’ll see your local politicians immediately, and can contact them. Each member has a profile on the app.

Users can get updates on which bills your local representatives voted on and how they voted. They can also watch voting in real time.

The user-friendly, photo-heavy layout is easy on the eyes too.

Countable offers a blog for daily news, and frequently rotates house and senate bill bios. Videos explain basics like why political ads have to end in an “I approve this message.”

The app only asks the user questions. It’s never biased, which makes it accessible for everyone.

I’ve personally found it useful for classes and for remaining politically aware.

Hudson put it well: “While this presidential election is of greater importance to me than elections in which I’ve voted in the past, it isn’t the president who going to raise the minimum wage or legalize marijuana in Arizona.”

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