The Chattanooga City Council is working to bring a new app to mobile devices that would help them find out what voters really want. Votus is a "civic tech company".
The CEO said they are focusing solely on Tennessee at the moment to increase voter turnout because the Volunteer State is home of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country as of 2014.
Roberto Rios lives in Chattanooga, but he does not know who his council member is or what voting precinct to go to. “You are right. I do not know anything. The app will definitely help me,” said Rios.
City council members hope to change that with the smart phone app Votus. The app verifies constituents addresses and confirms who their local representatives are. “Not everybody has time to sit at a computer and write and email or letter. But everyone walks around with a smart phone,” said District 7 Councilman Chris Anderson.
Users can select specific interests, such as the economy, budget, public safety, or education to join discussions with other users and elected officials.
The city's Purchasing Department is currently reviewing the proposal. The CEO of the start up company said it would cost about 25 thousand dollars a year. “This software is less costly than every software package we have purchased.”
The app would serve as a two way communication system. Neighbors can voice what they care about and elected officials can create discussions on trending concerns. “This kind of technology will make people more aware of what their city is doing for them, who is running, what they do, what they don't do,” said Rios.
Some Chattanoogans believe Votus would be a waste of resources. “It wouldn't help me. I don't use technology much. If I have a problem I call 311 and they answer my questions,” said Clarence Ward.
Councilman Chris Anderson hopes it improves the communication throughout the city. “Contact local officials and have a voice in what’s going on in city council.”
Councilman Anderson hopes to have the app released in the next few weeks.