In today’s world of growing technology, it seems there is an app for just about everything – from tuning a guitar to ordering takeout. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of two developers, one of whom is a native of Clarks Summit, there will soon be an app with a new approach to political engagement.
HonestPolitics co-founders Lyndon White and Andy Kleehammer recently launched a Kickstarter campaign, the goal of which is to raise $100,000 to fund the app’s completion. The campaign offers various incentives and levels of support, ranging from “backer recognition” on their website for those who pledge $1 or more, to dinner with the founders in Washington, D.C. for those who support the project at the $2,000 level or higher. Some other rewards include pens, T-shirts and mugs bearing the company logo.
As of Tuesday evening, the campaign was supported by 15 backers, with a total of $1,500 in pledges and eight days to go.
But White and Kleehammer aren’t going to let these numbers discourage them. For one thing, they explained, most Kickstarter campaigns raise the majority of their funds in the final stretch. And while raising money is a large part of the goal, that isn’t all they set out to accomplish.
“Whether the Kickstarter succeeds or fails, we’re going to be getting attention on our project, which is what we really need, said White. “And we’re not stopping. If the Kickstarter fails, we’re still doing this in our spare time. We’re looking at other ways we can pull this together.”
From Clarks Summit to Washington
The co-founders first met as co-workers at a software development company, where White is still employed. Kleehammer is currently between jobs and hopes to make the HonestPolitics app development a full-time position if the Kickstarter campaign is a success.
White, a Clarks Summit native, began his education in the Abington Heights School District, graduated from Valley View High School and then from Lebanon Valley College in Annville. He now resides in Manassas, Va. Kleehammer, a resident of Reston, Va., where HonestPolitics is based, graduated from Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y.
After meeting at work, the two became good friends, and found many of their conversations revolved around politics.
“One conversation in particular is what started everything,” Kleehammer said. “It was just after the 2014 elections and, among other frustrating things about the election, we were talking about the low voter turnout. That’s what sparked the whole idea of, ‘well, maybe we can do something to help address or mitigate this problem.’ After a while we landed on, ‘Okay, lets do this app, and we’ll put nonpartisan information into it.’”
‘A toolbox for political engagement’
The HonestPolitics app aims to diminish the nationwide issue of low voter turnout by engaging voters with facts.
“There’s actually a lot of information our government is required to collect on politicians, PACs, super PACs, and donors’ information and make that available to the public for oversight reasons,” White said. “The problem is that, while it collects this information, it doesn’t have a lot of great ways to disseminate this information. But a good amount of it is available through the internet.”
He added the goal of the app is to condense as much of that available information as possible into “an easily consumable format.”
“One of the slogans we were talking about for this software is ‘a toolbox for your political engagement,’” he said.
As stated on the Kickstarter page, “HonestPolitics is an app that simplifies civic engagement by providing a variety of tools that help you keep track of your representatives.”
According to the page, features of the app, if and when it is fully-funded, are to include:
• Federal representative look-up and contact information
• Campaign contributions by industry
• Campaign contributions by size
• Super PAC spending for representatives
• Representative voting history
• Voter registration
• Presidential executive orders
• Ballot for 2018 election
Currently, the app can be used to learn who the representatives are for a given area, as well as to see basic information about each one, including a breakdown of campaign contributions by size. As of now, it is available only on the Android platform, but the goal is to deliver it to both Android and IOS markets.
“Andy and I really are committed to the idea of bringing other people into the conversation around politics,” said White. “The original conversation stemmed around how to get more people involved, and that’s what we’re looking to drive here. So, we’re open to ideas and suggestions. We’re open to creating an online community around this app and around presenting this information and how best to get it out there.
“This is where we can, using our talents, do our small part to get people involved.”
Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.