With an unexpected and frustrating election season, there’s no doubt that exercising your right to vote is more important than ever. Headlines like “The Puerto Rican Wave That Could Boost Hillary Clinton in Florida” and “In an Arizona County, Anger at Trump Spurs Latinos to Vote” highlight the power of the Latino vote.
As Jorge Ramos has said in the past, “the new rule in American politics is that no one can make it to the White House without the Hispanic vote.” That hasn’t quite happened yet, and as a matter of fact, the same percentage of eligible Latinos – 48 percent – voted in the 2012 election as in the 1988 one, according to the New York Times. But with 27 million of us eligible to vote and very high stakes, the Unidos app wants to become young Latinos’ one-stop shop this election season.
The first time you open the app, you can choose to provide your name, age, background, where you plan to vote, and what issues matter most to you. After inputing your data, your news feed – featuring articles pertinent to the election – will pop up. Most stories are in English. But articles in Spanish are sprinkled throughout. (Editor’s Note: You might come across a Remezcla article on the app.) Unidos hopes that by curating the news, Latinos will feel less overwhelmed about making an informed choice come election day.
“During the development of the app we conducted focus groups with young Latinos around the country,” Néstor David Pastor – Unidos’ managing editor – told me. “Many of them told us that one of the things preventing them from voting was the worry that they would not be able to make an educated vote. So we decided that providing a feed of news about the election and related topics would help people feel more confident when they enter the voting booth. We think of Unidos, and especially the news feed as public service journalism in the 21st Century.”
Unidos comes from Feet in 2 Worlds – an award-winning site telling the stories of immigrants. The team is currently just eight people, though it works with journalists in heavily Latino states like New York, Florida, and California to better serve its target demographic and learn what’s happening on the ground.
Though the news feed is one of app’s main focuses, it does more than just keep you up-to-date on current events. The menu, for example, walks you through registering to vote and even tells you what to do if you encounter issues when trying to cast your ballot. The app’s set up to help first-time voters the entire electoral process. It’s also a good refresher for those who have voted in the past. And because everything is shareable, it encourages users to spread the word – or to send one of the app’s custom emojis.
“Our goals are pretty straightforward,” Pastor said. “We want users to register, vote, and stay informed. More broadly, we want people to use the app to encourage others to take an interest in the election… We want people to use the app as a civic engagement tool.”
The general election takes place Tuesday, November 8. If you want to exercise your right to vote, make sure you’re ready to go on election day. In most states, you must be registered a month before, but to be certain check the deadlines here. If you’re not sure if you’re registered, find your official state voter lookup site here.