November 25, 2010
April 12, 2010
April 10, 2010
April 8, 2010
April 4, 2010
"There's no reason why keeping tabs on your member of Congress shouldn't be as easy as seeing what your friends are posting on a Facebook wall," said David Moore of the Participatory Politics Foundation, explaining the concept behind his organization's site, OpenCongress.org, one of many online ventures that try to bring transparency to the workings of Capitol Hill.
It's a catchy sound bite that captures fairly well the type of work being done by many of the 250 or so folks who attended the event, hosted by a Washington- based nonprofit organization called the Sunlight Foundation.
Take LittleSis.org (an answer to Big Brother), which attempts to reveal ties between powerful business players and politicos by encouraging the public to log on and fill in such information. "We describe it as an involuntary Facebook," said Kevin Conner, the project's co-founder.
In the same way that social networking and apps have changed so much else on the planet, such technologies are being scrutinized for use in building stronger democracies. Dieter Zinnbauer, who traveled from Berlin to attend, said that his 15-year-old organization, Transparency International, works to fight corruption in countries around the world.
Although that work has generally been done off-line, the organization is hoping to figure out how to leverage the power of such technologies as the smartphone. To get ideas about how to do that, TransparencyCamp is the place to be. "The U.S. is very much in the forefront in this area," he said.
April 3, 2010
Despite the explosion of Facebook and Twitter use in the general population, the study's initial results showed only about half of the 79 cities had jumped on the social media bullet train: Just 50% of the cities had a Facebook presence, while 56% were on Twitter.
Of the cities that had established themselves on Facebook or Twitter, just a handful were making any real dent in citizen outreach. Only 13 cities had more than 500 fans on Facebook, and a mere 7 cities claimed more than 500 Twitter followers.
There appear to be multiple reasons for the foot-dragging according the Fels Institute report, including concerns about the potential for public criticism, legal issues, workload, and general cost to the often cash-strapped towns. But the benefits of social media outreach, according to the researchers, outweigh the potential downsides.
April 1, 2010
March 31, 2010
- Constituent Management Systems for Congressional offices
- Constituent Relations Management software for advocacy groups
- Community organization tools to enable political action
- Politically-oriented communication platforms intended to connect citizens, advocacy groups and representatives, or any subset of those three.
March 27, 2010
- Business model strategies
- Design & UX best practices
- Social media success
- Cutting edge development
- The mobile tsunami
- Performance challenges
- Practical analytics
- Real-time opportunities
- Enterprise tools
- Creating community
March 26, 2010
- 40 percent of library computer users received help with career needs
- 37 percent focused on health issues
- 42 percent received help with educational needs
- 60 percent used the library's computers to connect with others
March 24, 2010
March 23, 2010
MANOR LABS is a citizen collaboration platform that the city deployed for citizens to submit technology ideas for the city and rate the ideas of others. Manor then chooses some of the proposals for implementation. The twist is the city has an incentive for fueling activity on the platform. Every time someone submits an idea, comments another's idea, or votes on an idea, that person wins "Innobucks points." The various citizen activities within Manor Labs are worth different amounts of Innobucks, which can be turned in for tangible prizes. For example, one million Innobucks points wins "mayor for the day" status, while 400,000 points can be traded for a ride-along with the police chief.
"We wanted to demonstrate to other cities how to build a sustainable innovation platform. You have to make it fun. You have to make it a game," Haisler said.
Manor Labs operates somewhat like a stock exchange. Once an idea attracts enough comments, it reaches a level at which city officials evaluate whether or not they will implement that idea. During this time, users can invest their Innobucks in the ideas awaiting their fates. If a proposal is approved, all Innobucks invested in it double. Someone who invests in a rejected project loses all of the Innobucks he or she invested in that project. The approach has resulted in five different Web tools being implemented by Manor
March 22, 2010
"States need to analyze their current voter registration costs before they can determine effective ways to modernize the process," said John Lindback, senior officer for Election Initiatives at the Pew Center on the States and former Oregon state election director. "Oregon's critical contribution to this study provides guidance for analyzing expenses and shows the need for a more cost-effective system. A good starting point is to use 21st –century technology that will not only make registration less expensive, but also more efficient and accurate."
Innovative, cost-saving steps toward modernization have already been implemented by some states. For example, Delaware reduced its labor costs by $200,000 annually with its eSignature practice that requires every visitor to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to register to vote, update their record or decline to do so and then electronically syncs the data with the state election office. In Phoenix, Arizona, an online registration costs an average of 3 cents to process versus at least 83 cents for a paper registration form.
By comparison, Canada’s system points to the potential for significantly greater savings via a list of eligible voters created in part from government data sources. The Canadian system costs taxpayers about $5 million (CAD) annually or about 26 cents (USD) per registered voter compared to $4.11 in Oregon.
"Determining the exact cost of registering voters has been a real challenge," said Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, "because we found overlapping responsibilities at the state and local level. We've been pleased to work with Pew because this study gives us our first thorough look at the process and will certainly help other states evaluate their own registration procedures and costs. We already have improvements on the way, with our online voter registration system coming in March. We won’t stop seeking opportunities to modernize our system in ways that reduce costs and better serve Oregon voters."
Pew worked with Oregon state election officials and 36 county clerks to isolate their voter registration expenses from other costs related to conducting elections for 2008. The study’s key findings include:
• Oregon's voter registration system cost state and local governments more than $8.8 million;
• The cost per active registered voter (individuals who have either voted or updated their
registration during the past five years) was $4.11;
• New registrations combined with updates resulted in 1,152,761
transactions and the cost per transaction was $7.67; and
• The cost per active voter in the seven largest counties ($2.55) was less than that in the
remaining 29 counties ($4.03), indicating economies of scale.
Variations in both state laws and the division of responsibilities between state and local election officials make it difficult to assess voter registration costs nationwide. Two landmark pieces of federal legislation–the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002–also shifted some responsibilities for voter registration from local jurisdictions to states. Additionally, HAVA’s requirement that each state maintain a statewide voter registration list resulted in the re-allocation of costs between multiple levels of government.
The Pew Center on the States aims to improve the nation’s outdated voter registration process by examining options for building a system that is more efficient and accurate, while reducing costs and administrative burdens. Pew continues to gather data, analyze research and work with election officials to diagnose performance issues in the current system and propose fact-based, practical solutions to guide the modernization process.
For more information on Pew's election initiatives and to download "The Real Cost of Voter Registration," visit www.pewcenteronthestates.org/elections.
March 20, 2010
The epiphany belonged to Gregory Miller, 50, a technology marketing executive who earned a law degree in intellectual property and is now Digital Voting's chief development officer.
"Back in November 2006 I was entrepreneur-in-residence at a local venture-capital firm. The week of the election I happened to have a conversation with one of the partners about what we called 'malformed' markets, and we naturally turned to a discussion of the voting-systems industry, which was failing on all fronts at the time -- bad products, dysfunctional business models, the works," Miller said.
"It's a lousy business if you want to make money for your investors and do a good job for voters."
Not long after her April 2008 election to the Amherst School Committee, Catherine A. Sanderson thought she’d create a simple, little blog to keep voters informed about what the committee was doing and to gain voter feed back.
“Those were my noble goals,” she said of the origin of her blog, myschoolcommitteeblog.blogspot.com.
Her two to three posts per month grew to as many as 20, the monthly visitors tally reached as high as 10,000, and individual posts could generate as many as 150 reader comments.
It's become a lot of work, but Sanderson said the blog has more than accomplished its original purpose. “I ran on a platform of more communication and more transparency,” Sanderson said. “It’s hard to not communicate and not be transparent when you’re on a blog telling people, ‘Here is how I am going to vote and why.’”
Sanderson is one of many politicians at the local, state and federal levels who are realizing the importance of using new media to connect with the voters.
UTAH COULD face its first test of electronic signatures in the democratic process with e-candidate Farley Anderson's run for governor.
Earlier this month, the unaffiliated Anderson said he intended to collect his 1,000 required signatures electronically. Whether the Lieutenant Governor's Office accepts them is still in question. But it will have to be answered Friday, the legal deadline for candidate filings.
When Anderson announced his unique candidacy, state Elections Office administrator Mark Thomas said the current system is paper-based, but the law can be interpreted liberally to give candidates the most ballot access.
However, county clerks received an e-mail this week from Thomas, advising them that handwritten signatures are required and electronic signatures do not qualify.
March 19, 2010
ALEX TOURK is asking one of those why-didn't-I-think-of-that questions. Why, he asks, are elections held on Tuesday? Wouldn't Saturday or Sunday be better?
"It just makes sense to me,'' said Tourk, the former deputy chief of staff at the mayor's office who now runs his own public relations firm. "I hope to inspire San Franciscans to say, 'I never really thought about that. Why do we vote on Tuesday?'''
Tourk is promoting an idea to schedule a San Francisco election on a Saturday (see the Why Tuesdays SF website). He's currently collecting signatures to get the idea on the November ballot with the hope that an upcoming election will have two election days — one on Saturday and then one on Tuesday as usual.
Just a warning. If your first thought to the idea is, "Oh c'mon, what difference would that make?" don't say that to Tourk. He's got the numbers, he's got the history, and he has a passionate belief that this could actually make a big difference.
"Among the 179 developed countries in the world the United States ranks 132nd in turnout among eligible votes,'' he said. "Over the last 10 years in San Francisco — one of the most liberal, politically active cities in the country — the average turnout among eligible voters was 47.2 percent.''
What's more, he said, when eligible voters were asked in a survey why they didn't vote in 2008, Tourk says the main reason was "scheduling conflicts.''> Read More
Some experts look at this incident and others where new technology is being used by opponents of repressive regimes and have come to the conclusion that online free expression has the potential to bring about great democratic changes. Others are less optimistic, noting that governments are manipulating Internet activists and that, in any case, all the activity amounts to little more than taking offline techniques and moving them online.
So is the Internet stoking democratic change or is its impact hyped? Are repressive regimes conditioning people not to expect free expression on the Internet? Is online organizing little more than a game of Whac-a-Mole with one form of repression being replaced by another? What are the implications for political organizing of the recent discovery that the email accounts of dozens of Chinese human rights advocates appear to have been hacked? Join Google and Freedom House to answer this question and many more.
A SAN Mateo County judge tentatively ruled Thursday that an electronic signature submitted to the county elections office cannot be used to qualify an initiative for the ballot.
In his written decision released prior to a court hearing Thursday, Superior Court Judge George Miram ruled against Michael Ni, whose lawsuit sought to force the county clerk to accept a USB drive containing an "e-signature" that he submitted to qualify a statewide ballot measure for legalizing and taxing marijuana.
Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Warren Slocum rejected Ni's signature, captured by an iPhone and software developed by Verafirma, a startup company Ni co-founded. Slocum said a court must determine whether the signature is legal.
Miram denied Ni's request for a writ of mandate to order Slocum to accept the signature, handing an initial victory to the county and the California Secretary of State's Office, which contend electronic signatures are not allowed under the current elections code.
"The digital image of a purportedly completed initiative petition stored on a USB flash drive does not constitute a petition or paper for purposes of determining what the elections office must process," Miram wrote in his tentative ruling.
Still, Miram said during the hourlong hearing Thursday that he wants to think more about the case before issuing a final ruling within 90 days.
March 18, 2010
Divided into two distinct days with separate formats and content, the conference will offer praticipants both a work summit on best practices and standards for regional governments and an unconference exploring new ideas, technology and practices in open government.
The cost is $85.00. To register go here.
March 17, 2010
WHEN YOU think of cutting edge, 21st-century workplaces, chances are a county government bureaucracy does not come to mind. But the Human Services and Public Health Department of Hennepin County, in Minneapolis, Minn., is engaged in about as radical an experiment with flexible work as exists.
One morning late last year, the lobby was packed with people applying for food, housing and other public assistance. But down a hall, in a grayish-beige cubicle farm, it feels like a ghost office.
"Here's another one, empty," says supervisor Ann Zager as she guides me among vacant chairs and black computer terminals. Her staff of 13 determines eligibility for assistance, and half of them are not here.
March 16, 2010
March 15, 2010
March 14, 2010
March 13, 2010
March 12, 2010
March 11, 2010
The California Teachers Association spent $211.8 million over the past decade to influence state voters and legislators. In all, 15 groups - two labor unions, six corporations, three Indian tribes and four business associations - spent more than $1 billion over the past 10 years to sway the outcomes of elections and government decisions.
The 15 Groups Include:
-- California Teachers Association: $211.8 million
-- California State Council of Service Employees: $107.4 million
-- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $104.9 million
-- Morongo Band of Mission Indians: $83.6 million
-- Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians: $69.2 million
-- Pacific Gas & Electric Co.: $69.2 million
-- Chevron Corp.: $66.2 million
-- AT&T Inc.: $59.6 million
-- Philip Morris USA Inc.: $50.7 million
-- Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians: $49 million
-- Southern California Edison: $43.4 million
-- California Hospital Association: $43 million
-- California Chamber of Commerce: $39 million
-- Western States Petroleum Association: $35.2 million
-- Aera Energy LLC: $34.6 million