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Tag Archive: Elections

OpenGov Voices: Improve voter experience in NYC — Come to the Voting Information Project Hackathon!

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.J.Marcotte

Jared Marcotte is a manager for The Pew Charitable Trusts Election Initiatives. Recently, as a senior engineer at the New Organizing Institute, Jared worked on the Voting Information Project -- a collaboration with state and local officials, Google, Microsoft and Pew to develop and populate an open API and database of election-related information for all 50 states. Jared is also an interface and interaction designer and has worked on the Election Protection Coalition’s Our Vote Live and KCET.org.

Casting a vote is the most basic way we participate in our democracy, and effective election systems are fundamental to that participation. But in many cases, finding the information you need to cast your ballot – where your polling place is, what’s on your ballot, and what you need to bring with you – is not as simple as it should be. The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Voting Information Project (VIP) works to improve the voter experience by providing up-to-date election information where voters are most likely to look for it - online. Like everything else today, when people want information the web is the first place they look. VIP brings election information directly to the voter by allowing states to expose official election data such as polling locations, registration deadlines, and ballot information on various mediums and platforms like the web and mobile.

Modern voters expect online tools to help them cast an informed vote, and VIP is here to provide new platforms to enhance their experience. On August 2-3 we are hosting our first-ever New York City hackathon at AlleyNYC in midtown Manhattan. The event will bring together 150 developers, designers, and usability experts to generate socially innovative applications that can improve the voting experience in New York City for the 2013 primary and general elections, including the mayoral race.

We’ll be capping the registration at 150 so register today!

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OpenGov Voices: How TurboVote is Shaping the Future of Voting

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee Kathryn Petersthereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.

Kathryn Peters is the co-founder of TurboVote -- a nonpartisan nonprofit based in New York, which makes the voting process easier through a sign up system that helps users track rules and deadlines about voting -- to ensure that all citizens are included in the democratic process. You can reach her at @kathrynepeters.

Voting is one of the most fundamental interactions between citizens and our government. And it's a system whose 19th-century pedigree is showing badly. If for previous generations, gathering on Tuesday at central locations offered convenience and community, our busy schedules and long commutes have made getting to the polls one more obstacle to democratic participation.

In 2010, my friend Seth Flaxman and I set out to create an electoral system that would fit the way WE live: TurboVote, a new user interface for voting, as it were, complete with push notifications about election deadlines and a Netflix-worthy delivery system for all that paperwork, so we didn't have to buy envelopes or track down stamps just to stay engaged.

TurboVote LogoSunlight offered us a seed grant to run a pilot at Boston University, which helped us catch the attention of Google, earn funding from the Knight Foundation, and build partnerships at schools from the University of Florida to Hobart and William Smith Colleges, until by the end of 2012, we'd reached nearly 200,000 voters. Going forward, we want to offer every voter an easier, streamlined voting experience. In order to do this, we'll need to work directly with the 8,000+ local election administrators who handle the voting process across the U.S. So we set out to learn more about our new favorite people. Service designers from Reboot shadowed elections offices from Brattleboro, VT, to Austin, TX, with stops in Denver, CO, Columbia, MO, Louisville, KY and Stuart, FL along the way. The research team got to know the people behind the scenes of American democracy, their processes and technologies, and got hands-on with e-poll books and barcode scanners as we learned the tools of the trade.

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OpenGov Voices: Lack of Transparency and Citizen Disenfranchisement

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the Dan Moulthropguest blog.

Dan Moulthrop is a co-founder of The Civic Commons, a social media environment group designed explicitly for civil civic dialogue and brings communities together with conversation and emerging technology based in Cleveland, Ohio He is also CEO of The City Club of Cleveland, the Citadel of Free Speech for more than 100 years.

I've long been obsessed with maps. When I was a kid on road trips, I loved tracking our journey in the road atlas. When I lived in Brooklyn in the 90s, I covered my bedroom walls with AAA state maps with my then-recent three month cross country journey traced out on them. Maps always provided me with a way to locate myself in space and a way to understand my trajectory. In the last couple of years, I've started to see them differently. The maps I'm thinking about don't locate us or help us see a trajectory of growth or journey. They trap us. Specifically, they keep us attached to elected representatives that don't often have our best interests in mind.

Residents of Cleveland, Ohio, were just subjected to a redistricting exercise. I say subjected to because very few of them participated in the exercise. The last census triggered a charter-mandated remapping of ward boundaries, and, given the population decline, city council is to be reduced by two seats. The need for this had been in front of city leaders since census results were released, but there was no comprehensive, strategic public engagement process to discuss what factors ought to be taken into account as new ward configurations were considered, no draft maps shared with the public, no clear process for providing input. Instead, Cleveland's city council president worked with consultants behind closed doors and met with his colleagues on council individually to make deals and divvy up the city's population.

It has been said that we live in a time when voters don't pick their representatives; rather representatives pick their voters. In this case, the council president appears to have picked voters for his colleagues.

The Civic Commons

I don't actually know if this map will be good for Cleveland or not. Nobody knows. Those who voted for the first version of the map have had to backstep a little when Cleveland's small but significant Hispanic community challenged the map as a possible violation of the Voting Rights Act. Now that that detail has been addressed, for all we know, this could actually be the best map we ever could have hoped for. Here's the problem: we'll never know.

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Introducing Econocheck

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When Mitt Romney claims, as he did in a private talk at a fundraiser for well-heeled donors, that 47 percent of Americans do not pay income taxes, where can one check his math? When President Barack Obama tells David Letterman and his audience that he doesn't know how much the national debt is, what's the best place to get the latest number? When a member of Congress claims federal spending has been cut to the bone, what's the best place to check that claim?

Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Sunlight Foundation are launching Econocheck, a new ...

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