During the Presidential campaign season in America, it can be almost impossible to escape the near constant coverage and conversations surrounding the premiere candidates and their positions on the issues. However, as voters look further down the ballot, they’ll find lesser-known candidates in local races who don’t receive the same kind of national attention that Presidential candidates do. As a result, voters may find themselves uninformed on those candidates' views and unsure of who they’d prefer to vote for.
Enter Adam Carlson, a software engineer on our Dynamic Infrastructure team, whose day-to-day role at Wayfair has him building our new architecture to support dynamic content across all of our websites and apps. He and five of his friends noticed an opportunity to leverage their skills and build a tool that would make it easy for voters to educate themselves on candidates running for elections in their districts.
“We talked to friends with varying degrees of political engagement, which shed light on the fact that existing tools are not simple nor easy to use. Especially if you are a first-time voter, voting can be overwhelming,” Adam said of he and his friend’s genesis of the idea. “We wanted to make our website as intuitive as possible — just enter your address to learn about candidates. We started with this goal and worked backwards to discover the tools that would help us achieve it.”
The result of their efforts: BallotBud.com, an easy-to-use website where users can simply enter their home address and receive a concise collection of their local candidates, the corresponding races, and links they can follow to learn more about them. “For each candidate, you have the option to go to their website and learn about their platform,” Adam says. “In addition, you can save a candidate directly to your virtual ballot for easy mobile access when you vote. We currently provide candidate information for State Representative, State Senator, Governor, US House of Representatives, US Senate, and Presidential elections across all 50 states.”
Beyond the final product being a valuable free service that Adam could share with everyone, the process of making it proved to be equally valuable for him and his friends. “Together, the five of us had an incredible time learning about new technologies such as Web Crawlers, Google Civis API, Facebook Authentication, PostgresSQL, Java Spring, NodeJS, DNS Management, and Cloud Services. The project was also a great opportunity to talk with friends and family about why they feel local political engagement is rare.”
The drive and initiative Adam showed by going beyond his role in developing this tool makes us proud to call him a Wayfairian. We see our teams do incredible work in their roles every day, and we’re excited to see the impacts they’ll have outside of their roles, too. The next time election season is upon us, be sure to check out Ballot Bud and get informed about the candidates and issues in your area.
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