By Megan Sayles
Kabir Oshodi and Evan Higgins have been friends for over a decade. The duo met while attending Drexel University and even went on to become roommates. Now, they’ve added a new label to their relationship: business partners.
Oshodi and Higgins co-founded Know Your Politician, an online platform that educates underrepresented voters, including Black and Latinx individuals, on their candidates and elected officials in a straightforward format.
Although they launched in 2021, the pair developed the concept for the platform after Donald Trump was elected to the presidency. In 2020, the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests made it clear that people demanded change, and the only way that would happen is through informed voting.
“Ultimately, our lives are dictated by our state leaders and our local leaders that we rarely go out and vote for,” said Higgins. “They have tremendous power, and you see countless articles of how people vote for certain people at their state and local level, and these folks abuse their power.” `
When users navigate to Know your Politician, they enter their address and select political topics that are of interest to them. The platform then informs them about the upcoming elections in their area, as well as their current elected officials.
Users can play the Know Your Politician game, which presents different stances on political issues and matches them to their local politicians. The website also informs people about what role each elected official plays and offers a “what’s on my ballot” feature that outlines each of the candidates.
According to Oshodi, people often fault elected officials in the federal government for problems in their local communities. In this case, they are passing over the different levels of government in the U.S.
“You don’t have to write letters to your senator or President Biden. That’s not going to get answered and you’re going to feel like things are hopeless,” said Oshodi. “There’s people in your everyday community that walk amongst you and shop at the same supermarket as you that run unopposed because nobody knows who they are.”
Becoming familiar with the actions and stances of local politicians is what can spark change in local communities because voters can take that knowledge to polls.
Currently, Know Your Politician is serving New York and Massachusetts voters, but Oshodi and Higgins plan to expand to more states in the future.
For the entrepreneurs, the most difficult part about starting Know Your Politician has been executing the research. Although they rely on Ballotpedia to aggregate the current candidates and office-holders, Oshodi and Higgins individually browse through campaign websites and government websites to discern what stances each politician holds on various issues. This allows Know Your Politician to remain non-partisan.
“I think we can all agree that voting participation rates are abysmal in the United States, and for some parties they may find that okay, but as our generation gets older, that’s going to be unacceptable,” said Higgins. “I think it’s going to be up to us to be able to drive the country to a better place.”
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