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(Credit: Screenshot by Download.com)

The 2016 election had almost everyone in the US talking about politics, reading into issues, and paying attention to the news. Despite the magnitude of elections and the importance of voting, many people still don't exercise their right.

On average, only about 40 percent of the population vote in midterm elections. CBS reported that only 37 percent voted in the 2014 midterms, the lowest voter turnout since World War II.

The reasons for not voting range from not liking any of the candidates to people feeling like their voice isn't heard and doesn't matter. The 2018 midterms are almost a month away.

To increase civic engagement, a group of students at Stanford University developed the Pulse Voter app (iOS, Android) that connects its users with the Congress members. The app partnered with three California congressional candidates, Eric Salwell, Mike Levin, and Gil Cisneros.

The non-partisan app makes reaching out to your representatives and sharing your thoughts on legislation easier.

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"We saw in 2016 that people didn't feel heard by their representatives," Drake Hougo, Pulse Voter co-founder told The Mercury News. "We wanted to use technology to give people a voice."

In the app, users can see how important issues and legislation are polling on a local, state, and national level. Depending on how they feel about the issue, users can either tap "oppose" or "support." Users can learn more about a piece of legislation by tapping "learn more." Topics are also searchable in the app.

Pulse Voter collects the information and displays a percentage of user sentiment. Congress members on Pulse can view their district's data on a dashboard. The app wants to make feedback more understandable for Congress people too.

Pulse Voter informs its users with sites like Congress.gov, the Congressional Research Service, the Congressional Budget Office, and GovTrack. Pulse Voter promises that there aren't any bots on the site.

Without creating an account, Pulse Voter lets you enter your zip code and find out who your representatives are. If your congressperson isn't on Pulse Voter, you can send an email to the developers.

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Takeaways

  1. The Pulse Voter app connects citizens to their Congress members by voting on hot-button issues within the app.
  2. The app provides non-partisan information to inform the user on issues and legislation. User votes can show how issues are polling locally, statewide, or nationally. The information is available for citizens and politicians on the app.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's Download.com. She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Louisville.com. Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.