Spotlight on Maria Yuan
Meet Maria Yuan - the mastermind behind Issue Voter, a nonpartistan platform encouraging year-round civic engagement due to the ability to follow bills and issues citizens care about.
Tell us about your political experiences. Why do you love getting involved?
I worked as a campaign manager, as a staffer, and have introduced and passed a bill as a citizen. But, my passion for civic engagement started long before that. I still remember mock voting in second grade and my parents always voted. My dad came from China, where democracy does not exist. So, voting and our responsibility to be engaged citizens were values I learned from a young age. There're so many people who don't even have democracy. In America, we're ignoring it.
No matter how much money you have, no matter what level of education you have, every citizen has one vote.
I took a leave of absence to participate in a program based in D.C., where individuals are trained and placed on key races across the U.S. I worked in Iowa, where people are super engaged during presidential elections, but - like most Americans – disengage during the offseason. At the same time, personal engagement on issues is very high.
That’s where IssueVoter comes in. Back in Iowa, I thought, “How can we help people understand laws pass every week and affect our lives? And how can we enable communication between voters and their representatives in a meaningful, simple, and impactful way?” Fast forward almost 10 years, and this still didn’t exist, so I decided to create it. And, IssueVoter was born!
Why did you start Issue Voter, and what does it do?
You can create an account in less than a minute with your email and address – IssueVoter finds your rep automatically – and then by choosing the issues you care about – in order to receive custom alerts for upcoming bills that match your interests.
IssueVoter translates each bill into simple language, along with what both sides are saying. With just one click, you send your opinion directly to your Rep’s office. IssueVoter tracks how often your elected official votes your way. This Scorecard helps you be a more informed voter at the next election!
Similar to companies like Starbucks, American Airlines, and Target partnering with TurboVote to encourage voter registration, companies can partner with IssueVoter to encourage year-round civic engagement – while remaining non-partisan. Political campaigns partner to offer a valuable resource to supporters and better tailor their messaging, fundraising and GOTV efforts. We’re looking for organizations, companies and campaigns who want to give their stakeholders a voice via IssueVoter.
What do you think is the best way to find mediation in all the political turmoil of the recent years?
Of course, I’m biased, but I think IssueVoter is definitely the best way because we’re nonpartisan and interestingly, being nonpartisan seems increasingly rare! We focus on issues, not parties. That’s important today because 40% of all voters are registered as Independents and almost half of all Millennials do not identify with any political party.
Here are some more ways IssueVoter is unique:
- It’s private. You can use IssueVoter to send your opinions directly to your rep without broadcasting them publicly. Over 75% of people said they would not want to share their political opinions with their family/friends.
- We send emails, not petitions. Rep’s offices have to track every constituent contact, and 88% of staffers say that electronic messages influence their boss’ decisions.
- We are the only site that provides a personalized Scorecard of how your rep voted on actual bills.
- We are not an App. You can send opinions directly from IssueVoter’s email alerts, without downloading a separate app.