Online Election Game 'November Madness' Raises Awareness and Money for Charities
Dan Veaner - Lansing Star
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September 21, 2012
Click each state once to predict whether it will vote Democratic, twice for Republican: Visit the website
Americans have become so jaded about politics that the joke about the old lady who says, 'I never vote. It only encourages them' strikes a chord with just about everyone. But a Lansing man has found a way to get at least one good outcome from the election.
Dr. Marty Stallone has created an online election game that will take advantage of the buzz around November's presidential election to raise a lot of money for a worthy charity. The site is called 'November Madness'. You pay to enter and the winner gets to choose a qualified charity that will receive all the money.
"Many of my friends were very involved in March Madness, choosing brackets," Stallone explains. "I thought this was an untapped opportunity to tap into the excitement around the presidential election. Especially in the last election in 2008 you could almost feel the excitement around the election and the entire world watching how the United States election would unfold. I thought if people could get involved and tap into their competitive spirit and use that good for a charity, that would be helpful."
To play you predict the number of Electoral College delegates will be Republicans or Democrats. If your total matches the actual total on November 6th you win. It pays to enter early, as the earliest winner will be the actual winner. In case of a tie the site also asks you to predict the popular vote. The 'prize' is that the winner gets to designat the charity the money will go to. Only 501c3 IRS approved charities are elegible. Links are provided to sites that list qualified charities.
Predicting is simple. You click states on a map one time to predict Democratic delegates, and a second time to predict Republican. All but two states are all or nothing -- in other words all the delegates go to the winning party. Maine and Nebraska win delegates by district, so you must predict the number on a district by district level. You can set the map to election results from past years as a starting point, then tweak your predictions before submitting them. Or you can choose to vote on a check list instead of the map.
Once you have set your predictions you 'check out', which involves predicting the popular vote and paying $15 online. The voting is open now through the day before the election. Stallone says that as the election draws closer and it begins to become more apparent who the winner will be that the cost of entering may go up, another great reason to enter early.
Stallone came to the Ithaca area in 1994 to attend Cornell. There he met his wife, a Lansing native. He attended medical school and graduate business residency in Philadelphia from 1999 to 2007. They moved to Rhode Island until 2009 when they moved back to Lansing. He is the Director of Hospital Medicine at Cayuga Medical Center, and the Medical Director of the Cayuga Area Plan Medical Network. He holds an MD, MBA, and a Masters in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
"My educational and professional career has prompted my interest in this," he says. "That's how I got involved in the political/national security aspects of elections. I closely watch the health care implications. I'm interested in the economic view of the country as well."
Stallone says that the site is politically neutral, and does not ask anyone to declare that they are of one party or another. He sees it as a fun and educational way to enjoy the election, learn a bit about how presidents are elected, and ultimately benefit a worthy cause.
"This is a non-partisan site," he stresses. "It doesn't support either candidate. A good participant and donor would recognize certain states are likely to vote Democrat and others Republican. Playing the game well doesn't imply partisanship in any way."
Stallone has donated the cost of the Web site, the cost of becoming a company, and other costs. He says that upwards of $14.50 of $15 contributions will go to the charity, with only the cost of processing credit cards and possibly employees if the site is so successful that it becomes necessary to have some. The bulk of the donation is tax deductible, and everyone will get a letter from the winning charity that they can use for tax purposes.
If this first try is successful Stallone says he would like to expand the idea. He says the concept has potential for state and local races.
"It can be something for communities to generate excitement or take from the excitement the election already has around a charitable cause," he says.
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