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Home » Campaigns, Flash Causes, Politics, Twitter

Not So Fast! Election Day Monitoring Goes Mobile

By Tom Watson on October 29, 2008One Comment

Just three weeks ago, social networking gurus Nancy Scola and Allison Fine of techPresident and the Personal Democracy Forum tossed out a big idea: why not use mobile technology and the kind of short-messaging techniques capturing hearts and minds among the digerati to help keep track of irregularities on Election Day. Here’s how they put it:

We know. It sounds ridiculous at first. But it might not be as crazy as you think.

Why not? Well, here’s what we’re thinking. We all know that American elections can be messy affairs. As longtime online organizer Jon Pincus recently noted, “voter suppression relies to a large extent on information asymmetry.” That imbalance, if not corrected for, can create just enough hoops that discourage all but the most motivated among us from jumping through them on our way to voting. From voter caging to misleading fliers to faulty machinery to the long waits exacerbated by poorly trained poll workers, it’s often a lack of knowing that jams up the process.

And for far too long, the job of election protection has fallen largely to lawyers schooled in election law. But there’s an opportunity before us right now and through Election Day for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of citizens to identify and rectify voting problems in real time.

Not so crazy, as it turns out. The idea had wings and with some intense work and creative organizing (I’ve been watching some of this unfold, not so ironically, on Twitter) the duo has a network in place to track problems at the polls around the country via cell phones and Twitter. it’s really great work, a real “flash cause” that came together because of the energy and vision of a couple of people and the power of the network. So without further ado, here’s the public service announcement portion of this post – and by all means, reblog it, Twitter it, spread it around:

A large number of groups working on voter outreach and protection efforts have joined this effort.  They include: the 866-OUR-VOTE (The Election Protection Coalition), Rock the Vote, Credo Mobile, Common Cause, Plodt.com, YouTube, twittervision.com, NPR’s Social Media Desk, Independence Year Foundation, Center for Community Change, Student PIRGs, PBS, Women Donors Network, and Demos.

And now we need everyone’s help to get the word out — this effort will only work if lots of people are using the system.  So, here’s how it works:

If you currently use Twitter, send a message after you vote that begins with #votereport (this is critically important for ensuring that your message gets to the right place.)  Then write some or all of the following:

#[zip code] to indicate where you’re voting; ex., “#12345″
#machine for machine problems; ex., “#machine broken, using prov. ballot”
#reg for registration troubles; ex., “#reg I wasn’t on the rolls”
#wait:minutes for long lines; ex., “#wait:120 and I’m coming back later”
#good or #bad to give a quick sense of your overall experience
#EP+your state if you have a serious problem and need help from the Election Protection coalition; ex., #EPOH
If you don’t use Twitter and want to go to www.twitter.com, sign up then follow the directions above.

If you want to participate by cellphone but don’t want to use Twitter, you can:

Send a text message to 66937 that begins with “#votereport”
Key in a report by calling (567) 258-VOTE/8683
Download and use the iPhone app (coming soon)
Please participate — we need lots and lots of voices heard on Election Day!

That’s it — let’s go and “tweet” this election!

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One Comment »

  • [...] Updated: Another idea for monitoring the vote from Causewired. Please voteOn the ritual of votingI cast my vote about 9 this morning.Protecting the VoteGet Out [...]

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