Seattle startup Downticket helps voters follow elections and support candidates with an app

Downticket wants to make civic engagement easier with its ballot guide and campaign contribution app. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

A new Seattle startup wants to make civic engagement more mobile-friendly. Downticket is an app that provides guides to select races and allows users to donate to candidates they like directly.

The one-year-old startup has raised $100,000 of a $500,000 investment round, according to an SEC filing and is currently operating in beta. Downticket CEO Nimish Desai wouldn’t comment on the active fundraising but did chat with GeekWire about what he’s working on.

“It’s basically an app that’s geared toward increasing engagement in elections nationwide,” he said.

During Downticket’s beta, the app covered races that were particularly noteworthy, like Washington 45th District state Senate race and Virginia’s gubernatorial election.

“The site is geared around what we’ve determined are hot races, so ones that are either close in the polls or have some sort of national significance or both parties are investing heavily into those races,” Desai said.

Because the Nov. 7 election has passed, the only active race on Downticket right now is the special election for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former seat in Alabama.

Downticket makes money by taking a percentage of donations that users make in the app. As of the beta phase, the app allows candidates to supply the information and data attached to their profiles. But Downticket may take a more active role in curating the content after formally launching next year.

Desai launched Downticket’s beta in December 2016. His CTO is Mon-Chaio Lo who also serves as an engineering lead for Uber in Seattle, according to LinkedIn.

Downticket isn’t the only election guide app out there, but Desai believes that the ability to accept campaign contributions gives his startup a competitive advantage. Downticket is also a non-partisan service, unlike many of its competitors.

Downticket will officially launch in 2018 in advance of the midterm elections. As of now, Desai plans to focus exclusively on the federal House and Senate races and then expand later on based on interest.