Tickbox: What do you stand for?
Think voting isn’t for you? Find out what happened when The Tab met Tickbox, the site which may well change your mind
With the European Elections fast approaching, voting should be something which is on all of our minds. Let’s be honest, though: it probably isn’t.
Young people are notoriously rubbish at turning up to elections. Indeed, with over half of 18-24 year olds not even being registered to vote, it’s clear that getting to the ballot box is not high up on many students’ to-do lists.
Four Exeter students, however, might just have found the solution which will get us to get up and vote: Tickbox – a website that, through a few simple questions, can match you to specific candidates running in the elections.
“I first came up with the idea during the elections last year,” says Matt, one Tickbox’s co-founders. “Though I was really excited about voting, none of my eleven other flatmates were.”
When he dug a little deeper, Matt found that the reason for their lack of interest wasn’t that his friends were the shallow, stupid youths which the media painted them to be – more interested in X-Factor than elections.
Instead, it was that they simply “didn’t know enough to vote,” not wanting to spend their time ploughing through various party manifestos, especially around exam time.
When Matt made them a spreadsheet with all the information nicely summarised for them, though, they all became far more involved in the elections then they had been before.
It was simple step from a spreadsheet to a website. A year later, with a little help from the University’s piggy bank, Tickbox is up and running for everyone to use.
So, within the same amount of time and effort it takes you to find a couple nice people on Tinder, you can discover for whom you should be voting.
‘The aim of the website isn’t to change the way you vote,” says Matt. “It’s simply to try and help give people the information they need to vote in an easy and accessible way.”
The boys have put every effort into the website being as informative and unbiased as possible, with every single party running in the European elections included – from Labour, to UKIP to The Harmony Party.
But Tickbox, despite its original inspiration, is about more than just general elections.
On a more light-hearted note, the website also gives the chance to partake in ‘Novelty Elections,’ such as deciding ‘Who will take the Iron Throne’ (clearly Tyrion) or ‘Who Should be Mayor of Chelsea’ (definitely not Spencer Matthews).
When asked why they had decided to put these Buzzfeed-style quizzes next to serious ones, Matt’s answer was simple: “We wanted to show how voting in elections is as easy as picking someone to be Mayor of Made in Chelsea.”
“It seemed wrong to us that you could book a holiday to Morocco in twenty minutes on your iPhone, but not find brief and helpful information about who you should vote for online,” Matt continued. “And so we wanted to modernise voting in the same way.”
Certainly, with the simple quiz format, the easy-to-read candidate summaries and the video of Tywin Lannister’s wise words to help you with your choice, they seem to have achieved just that.
So, with a website fully up and running, the potential to get thousands of students involved in the election, and the stream of positive feedback already flying in, where do the boys see their endeavour going next?
Ultimately, Matt says, the dream is for “Tickbox to be to elections what Youtube is to videos.”
And they’ve got a plan to get there. Over the next year, they aim to work both with political parties and with unis across the country to increase turnouts in elections – both for political parties and student unions.
When trialled in the Exeter student elections, Tickbox was found to create a 2.4% increase in voting over the thousand students who used it, which shows the website’s potential with elections.
The idea is for the website to reveal “not who has the best Youtube video, but to show whose policies you actually agree with,” thereby making students fully understand who and what they are voting for.
Once everyone is voting, the boys want to create nationwide League Tables, showing what changes have been made by candidates and whether they have delivered on their manifesto’s promises. (If they haven’t, the website will allow you to make e-petitions.)
Why not give it a go, then? Tickbox seems to have found a way to make those quizzes you normally take to procrastinate actually mean something.
Indeed, as much as we all love discovering ‘Which planet are you’ or ‘How dirty minded are you,’ finding out who I should vote for may seem a tad more helpful in later life.