How to use your iPhone to follow the long-term impact of your midterms vote

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 8
This midterm election saw a rush of new people coming to vote. Political engagement doesn't stop there, though, and your iOS device will help you continue to have your say.

Detail from the official White House website shown on an iPhone
Detail from the official White House website shown on an iPhone


Maybe your midterms vote got you the representative you want, maybe it didn't. Yet whoever is now representing your district, you can see what they're doing and you can make your voice heard throughout their term by using iOS apps and services.

So many more of us are now politically aware and active -- some accounts say 114 million people voted this week compared to 83 million for the last midterms. You have to think that a lot of those extra 32 million people have iPhones and now is the time to download apps to keep that political engagement alive.

Partisan

You would think that there would be one official Republican app and one official Democratic one, but there's neither. At various times such as before their National Conferences or elections, each party will produce an app but they're also good at removing them afterwards.

There are political apps from the two parties in individual states, but to get national information your best bet is to follow @TheDemocrats or the GOP on Twitter.

What the parties say is perhaps less useful than what they do, however, so there are independent apps that will collate statistical and news information.

Non-partisan

There's no nice way to say this, so let us just cut to the point. We have yet to find an app that is comprehensive, well-designed and also trustworthy. You can have two of those but so far not all three.

Trustworthy is mandatory, of course, and we want comprehensive so we've ended up with ones that aren't great on design.

That doesn't mean they're unreadable, just that it can take you a time to figure out what information is available to you.

Countable

This is especially true with Countable. Its chief design problem is in how it has to handle a gigantic amount of information.

News pages from the Countable app
News pages from the Countable app


There are really two significant routes into the mass of political information that Countable holds and the main one is through your specifying exactly where you live.

You can add just a ZIP code but you're likely to be told that's not precise enough. If you then include a full street address Countable will return the names of your local representatives.

Thereafter, if you open the app and tap on a profile icon at top left, you get a menu that includes My Reps. Tap on that and you get the representatives with their affiliation. Tap on any one of them to get more specific information.

This is certainly comprehensive. Right from within Countable, you can phone, message or send a video message to your representative.

However, you can also then scroll down through a news feed showing every bill your representative voted on and how they voted. Tap again on that vote and you see summary of what was being debated.

You can similarly go straight to these votes through a Bills section which lists everything going on.

The other main way you may use Countable, though, is a Notifications section. This does do what you expect in that it controls what information you want the app to alert you about. However, it's very detailed: you can pick from any or all of around 150 political topics you want to follow.

Countable is free on the App Store.

OurVoice USA

Our Voice USA is less stringent about you specifying exactly where you are. If you solely enter a ZIP code, it will tell you that there are many areas within it and so also many representatives. However, it then shows you them all so if you know your local area, you can get to the right information faster in this app.

Once you're there, what it really wants to do is brief you on that representative. So right from their entry in the app, you can go to their Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Wikipedia entry or website.

The Our Voice USA app
The Our Voice USA app


You can also see users' ratings of the politician. In theory that's impressive because you get the overall figure but then a breakdown by the parties voters identify with plus what proportion of the vote comes from within the district or not.

In practice, we just kept find that nobody had voted to like a candidate.

It is about candidates

As the midterms just showed us, all elections can be about how the nation is run overall. They can be about specific issues. However, they are also always about individual politicians.

So while it can be more appealing to get overviews of certain topics, it's the ability to see what a local politician is likely to do that makes having apps like these worthwhile.

Our Voice USA is free on the App Store.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 5
    Hey, I just wanted to say this is the first political article on this site that hasn't made me nauseous.  Not a dig on any particular author, I just hate the topic.  Nice work AppleInsider!
    SpamSandwichchasmairnerd
  • Reply 2 of 5
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,506member
    This is the best article I have ever seen here. Very interesting, thank you and bravo!
    chasmairnerd
  • Reply 3 of 5
    For those who don’t completely fall into the two-party trap, there’s also the Libertarian Party, which is the largest 3rd party in the US.

    They do have a Twitter presence and there are also plenty of people who represent good sources of thought and discussion online and in print: Comedian Dave Smith, Austrian economist Robert Murphy, author Tom Woods, the Mises Institute and even Ron Paul, who wasn’t a Libertarian in Congress but who did represent himself as a largely Libertarian politician.
    airnerd
  • Reply 4 of 5
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,736member
    For those who don’t completely fall into the two-party trap, there’s also the Libertarian Party, which is the largest 3rd party in the US.

    They do have a Twitter presence and there are also plenty of people who represent good sources of thought and discussion online and in print: Comedian Dave Smith, Austrian economist Robert Murphy, author Tom Woods, the Mises Institute and even Ron Paul, who wasn’t a Libertarian in Congress but who did represent himself as a largely Libertarian politician.
    You had to go and ruin the non-partisan thread ... Why?
  • Reply 5 of 5
    MacPro said:
    For those who don’t completely fall into the two-party trap, there’s also the Libertarian Party, which is the largest 3rd party in the US.

    They do have a Twitter presence and there are also plenty of people who represent good sources of thought and discussion online and in print: Comedian Dave Smith, Austrian economist Robert Murphy, author Tom Woods, the Mises Institute and even Ron Paul, who wasn’t a Libertarian in Congress but who did represent himself as a largely Libertarian politician.
    You had to go and ruin the non-partisan thread ... Why?
    I’m not currently a registered Libertarian, so consider it an act of informing the thread. Libertarians are the largest 3rd party and technically speaking, registered Independents outnumber all of the major political parties today.
    edited November 8
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