With elections just days away, Shukoor Ahmed is working quickly to spread the word of his company’s latest smart phone application for Maryland voters.
Ahmed combined his passion for politics with his entrepreneurial spirit to make a livelihood with voting tools.
“I am politically active,” says the 48-year-old Bowie resident, who says he is living the American dream after immigrating from India 18 years ago with $500 in his pocket. “So my friends call me when they have questions about where they are supposed to go to vote, or what they need to do. I think a lot of people have the same questions.”
That’s how his new app comes in.
Designed to make voting easier, the free iPhone (or any smart phone) application can be downloaded through iTunes. Once you’ve got it, with just a tap on their touch screen you can find out where to vote, what’s your voter registration status and whether your absentee ballot has been lost.
The e-product has been evolving since 1998, when Ahmed made his first of four runs for Maryland House of Delegates in District 23A. During his door-to-door campaigning, he discovered that an overwhelming percentage of citizens didn’t know who held the office, what district they were in, where to vote — and so on.
Two years later, he launched his web development company, V-Empower, to connect citizens with state officials.
“My background is in information systems,” said Ahmed, who earned a Bachelors in the field and later a Masters in Public Policy from American University. “I want to use that to help citizens become more informed.”
In 2000, Ahmed built www.statedemocracy.com “to deliver democracy to citizens’ doorsteps.” The website — tag-lined “Connect! Engage! Empower!” — delivers the same as the new app. On the website, you can also link to your representatives in the General Assembly.
Earlier this year, Ahmed and two students from Prince George’s County public schools developed another site, www.PGBallot.com, as a sample ballot.
With voting beginning October 22, Ahmed’s smart phone app is his latest and most timely creation.
“Citizens can find the same information on the web, but the smart phone application makes it faster and more simplified,” Ahmed said.
“With the app you just click, type in your info, and it’s there, you’re done.”
It’s all about returning power to citizens by helping you become more informed in the easiest, most direct way.
“The application is for all Maryland voters,” Ahmed said. “It’s is useful for every voter, political activist or campaign supporter. Anyone can use it.”
Riding the new wave of smart phone applications, Ahmed plans to develop more ideas for the iTunes store. His next launch is set for January, when the Maryland General Assembly starts its session.