Iowa Startup Looks to Connect Voters Directly With Politicians | Upvote
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Iowa Startup Looks to Connect Voters Directly With Politicians

UpVote Will Disintermediate Political Advertising by Delivering Trusted Information

DES MOINES, June 20, 2023 - An Iowa startup is launching a platform that will connect voters directly with the politicians seeking to represent them, bypassing the multibillion-dollar political advertising industry and potentially rebuilding trust in our democracy.

UpVote, which won early funding from Iowa’s Economic Development Authority, will also supply news, information, and context that voters need to make informed decisions. It will allow representatives and candidates to interact with verified constituents, providing communication that is both two-way and far more targeted than TV and radio advertising.

The founders, Kasey Clary and Zack Krawiec, have experienced a broken political communications system firsthand. They met while interning at the Iowa state house, and both went on to work for prominent Iowa politicians at the state and federal level. In the absence of a way for politicians to communicate consistently with verified, informed constituents, they saw divisive practices like TV attack ads become the lingua franca of politics. 

Ultimately, frustration with politics drove them to careers in tech and finance, respectively. In late 2022, they reunited to try to use a combination of artificial intelligence, “know your customer” practices, and open data sources to solve the system’s current shortcomings. The service is signing up users to test initial features at

“Political ad spending is at an all-time high, yet Americans’ trust in government is near the lowest it’s ever been,” said Krawiec. “We believe it’s because people don’t have information they can trust, and that’s what UpVote is going to fix.”

Upvote is looking to tackle the problems of political communications by making verified information available at scale. This allows the average voter to compete directly with special interests, filters out misinformation, and empowers voters to influence political outcomes. If UpVotes’ ease of use leads more moderates to engage in politics, it may diminish the influence of ideologues who currently participate at higher rates.

As the 2024 election cycle unfurls, artificial-intelligence-powered misinformation is expected to flood the internet, deepening distrust and confusion among voters. UpVote leverages AI to do the opposite – filter and deliver verified information. The platform combs the internet for topics based on user interest and location using APIs, takes that information and feeds it through the Upvote AI model which reads articles on the topic from across the news spectrum. 

It then takes the common denominators from each article to discern what is being validated by multiple sources and writes news bites using objective language. Then it makes note of how publications on each side of the spectrum are reporting on the topic so users can understand the differing viewpoints and potential media bias. 

UpVote will also simplify complex policy, letting voters behind the curtain of the political process. It will present legislation in plain language, and use a feature called “alignment score” to show people how actions taken by their representatives align with their personal beliefs and desired outcomes.

Beyond serving voters, Upvote provides a critical service for politicians and their back-office staff. Through their constituent verification mechanism, Upvote has re-architected the public forum to cut through the inherent noise of traditional social media platforms. Officials and candidates now know that they’re communicating with real, verified voters in their jurisdiction. 

Officials are given a channel to explain their actions and beliefs directly to those that they represent. They are also equipped with granular, proprietary data regarding verified constituent sentiment across all key policy areas. This deep, informed connection allows them to better serve their constituents, and has allowed them to build a reputation through effective service instead of fundraising.

UpVote’s revenue will come from politicians’ offices and campaigns, allowing voters to join for free, as long as they provide the information that allows them to be verified as residents of particular jurisdictions. (Beta-testers will only need to enter an email address). Officials will pay a monthly fee for constituent communication services, while campaigns will be able to advertise in clearly designated positions. 

Digital political advertising spending reached an estimated $2.85 billion in 2020, and television ad spending was orders of magnitude higher.

You can sign up for first access as UpVote rolls out news and information features at

Kasey Clary Headshot

Kasey Clary

President & CoFounder
Zack Krawiec Headshot

Zack Krawiec

CEO & CoFounder