New UI Diagrams for a federated, comprehensive government monitoring tool (EVomni)

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To view full-size versions of these images, please visit http://imgur.com/a/iha6o#0

EveryVote.org’s mission is to improve crowd wisdom and government efficacy by providing open source (AGPL) tools that 1) allow people to learn about and interact with all of their candidates and officials using one convenient web page, and 2) to make all EveryVote tools federation-compatible with as many other government monitoring tools as possible, so that a monopoly over government monitoring tools cannot form.

Some notes about the UI diagrams:

1) A tentative name for a collaboration of federation-compatible government monitoring tools could be OpenGov Federation. #opengovfed

2) EV News is basically reddit, except users can filter upvotes and downvotes based on whether those votes were cast by supportersopposers, or undecideds on a topic. I can’t wait for the day this tool becomes available. I love reddit, but its biggest drawback is that it necessarily forms a hivemind that prevents minority viewpoints from being heard, so it is not a fair platform for civil discourse. EV News would do all the same things as reddit, except minority viewpoints could be heard.

3) The Consensus Tracker is a way for you to learn at-a-glance how everyone you ‘support’ (your trusted advisors) or ‘oppose’ (your distrusted advisors) are voting on any site entity (candidates, officials, bills, etc.). To our knowledge, no available government monitoring tools are using this technology yet. That’s a shame, because if a person understands how the Consensus Tracker works, then they basically understand how liquid democracy works, and can begin participating in it.

To illustrate, if 7 groups you support have voted on Bill A, and 5 of those groups voted to support Bill A, while 2 voted to oppose Bill A, then the corresponding box in the Consensus Tracker would display a green +43%.

Or, if 1 group you support has voted to support Bill A, while 6 groups have voted to oppose it, then the corresponding box in the Consensus Tracker would display a red -71%.

Algebraically, if:
X = # of groups you support that are supporting the bill
Y = # of groups you support that are opposing the bill
Then the Consensus among groups you support on the bill = (X – Y)/(X + Y)

4) If there was ever an argument that we should consider liquid/networked/delegative democracy to support or replace the US current representative democracy, I personally think this image speaks volumes.

5) If you do not think comprehensive US candidate and official databases are one of (if not the) highest priority needs in the US today, again please take a look at this image.

Average US voters are responsible for the oversight of well over 50 elected representatives, and that does not include the judges (I had to vote on over 30 in Nov. 2012). It should not surprise us that the American government is not representing the will of the people (Congressional approval = 15%), nor that Americans seem so unwilling to do anything about it. Given our current technologies, comprehensive oversight of our elected officials by average citizens is completely impractical, so we should expect Americans to feel overwhelmed and become apathetic about their government.

Fortunately there are logical steps we can accomplish in the near future to improve our situation. Before we can expect Americans to become active, well-informed citizens, we need to provide them with sufficient government monitoring tools. The first steps to making sufficient government monitoring tools is *1* completing the free, publicly downloadable comprehensive candidate database, and *2* completing the free, publicly downloadable comprehensive official database, so independent developers can create comprehensive government monitoring tools. EveryVote hopes you will become active, outspoken advocates for goals *1* and *2*, if you are not already.

Since EveryVote is a small, student and volunteer-driven project, our first goal is to create an open source app to help university students learn about and interact with all of their student government candidates in one convenient location (EVmini). A prototype is available, and you can watch a 60 second video intro to the EveryVote Facebook app here. If you have any questions or feedback for us, or you may want to help this Summer in any capacity (coding, web design, outreach, mentoring, anything), we’d really appreciate hearing from you at contactus@everyvote.org, or please follow or tweet @EveryVoteOrg.

Thanks for reading! Please let us know what you think so you can help this project evolve.

The EveryVote Facebook app – increase voter turnout in university elections for free

The open source EveryVote Facebook app is designed to improve voter turnout in university student government elections, by helping students learn about, share their opinion on, and interact with all of their candidates conveniently over Facebook.

More screenshots in English

Screenshots in Hungarian

Please comment if you have any questions or suggestions. EveryVote.org is a volunteer-driven so if you may be interested in helping out, please email contactus@everyvote.org  Thanks!

When will #opengov finally prioritize the comprehensive US candidate database?

When we have a comprehensive US candidate database, developers for the first time in history will be able to make websites where citizens can learn about, share their opinion on, and interact with ALL of their candidates (federal, state, county, local, judicial) using one convenient web page.

Most Americans today do not know who most of their candidates are in every single election (Right?). So how on Earth can we expect to live in a healthy democratic republic when most voters do not even know the names of their candidates, let alone their platforms?

I believe telling Americans “imagine a web site where you can learn about, share your opinion on, and interact with all of your candidates on one convenient page” has meme potential, and would lead to non-technical Americans of all ages understanding why the completion of the publicly-accessible, comprehensive candidate database is so important. But I don’t hear *any* influential factions of the #opengov movement focusing their attention on this message today. What will it take to change that?

Is there any cause more important than providing voters with comprehensive election information resources as conveniently as possible? Aren’t the problems of our election information distribution process (i.e. dependency on attack ads, biased and inadequate mainstream media coverage, telemarketers, etc.) the foundations of every problem we can complain about with the US government today?

Then why is it that I still never hear #opengov advocates, other than VoteSmart.org, raising awareness for the need for a comprehensive candidate database? Wouldn’t the completion of this database be a milestone in the *entire history* of democracy? Why are so many talented #opengov people diligently pouring over the next best bike path mapping or graffiti tracking app, but no influential figures are focusing the dialogue on completing this specific, monumental, and obviously needed resource?

None of the questions above are meant rhetorically, and I’d appreciate your honest feedback. Please let me know if you know any #opengov individuals or organizations other than VoteSmart who are focusing on achieving this goal. I need to understand why this issue is not more of a priority to the #opengov movement today, and what we need to do to change that.

I am the Project Manager of EveryVote.org, and our primary goal is the completion of the comprehensive US candidate database. If you’d like to learn more about EveryVote or focus on this common goal, I’d be thrilled to talk to you, and please email mitch@everyvote.org.

Thank you!

@mdowney84

There’s a deeper problem than money in politics: We Have No Idea Who Our Candidates Are

Video

The US is an organization like a business. US citizens eligible to vote are the shareholders (bosses) of the US. We decide who to hire and who to fire in our company.

And yet year after year after year we make our hiring decisions after reading only 2 resumes. Does ANY good business owner only read 2 resumes before hiring someone to an extremely important position?

Today when Congress has a 13% approval rating, our priority as a country has to be to make it as easy as possible for US citizens to read as many resumes and interview as many public office job candidates as possible. As long as Americans are only reading 2 resumes before every hiring decision, we are destined for mediocrity or disaster.

EveryVote.org’s mission is to create a website that makes it as easy as possible for US citizens to learn about, share our opinion, and contact every candidate in every election we can vote in, all on one convenient webpage. If we let things continue the way they are, people will have little option but to believe what they see or read in the mainstream media, and in the process will only know about 2 candidates in every election. But if we put everyone’s candidates on one easy-to-browse page, then it will be much easier for us to review candidates’ platforms, contact them, and share our opinion on them, helping us make wiser hiring decisions from the widest possible candidate pools.

EveryVote is volunteer-driven, so if you might want to help this Summer 2013, we’d really appreciate it and please email contactus@everyvote.org. Also, feel free to try the EveryVote Facebook app and visit the Historical Figures page at EveryVote University.

Revolutionize election information online to get money out of politics

TL;DR – To most effectively fight money in politics we need to create a website that lets voters learn about and interact with all of their candidates on one convenient page. VoteSmart.org is building the comprehensive US candidate database needed to make this website, but their work is under-appreciated and they need your support.

If you don’t believe there is a problem with money in politics today, memorize this statistic: Between 2000-2010, the candidate that spent the most money on their Congressional campaign won 92% of the time.

There are several (but not many) organizations fighting the influence of money in politics today (e.g. Wolf-PAC, Represent.us, RootStrikers). Most of these organizations are focused entirely on campaign finance reforms or Constitutional amendments that would restrict the amount of money candidates receive, and require more disclosure as to the sources of donations. While these methods may help address money in politics, I believe these organizations would more effectively get money out of politics if they started educating their supporters that money in politics is not only a failure of legislation, but also a failure of technology.

Money affects election outcomes so dramatically because attack ads, biased news media (who sell attack ad space to the candidates) and telemarketers are still the primary sources of election information for most voters. Instead of attacking money in politics with only legislation reform (trying to convince the people accepting donations to pass laws forbidding them from taking donations), we need to also focus on evolving our election information technology, so voters have better alternatives than ads, the MSM, and telemarketers.

Even if we pass legislation that dramatically restricts campaign donations and spending, we are still faced with the problem that most Americans have no idea who most of their candidates are on their ballot in every single election. On April 9, 2013, as a citizen of Oak Lawn, Illinois, it is my civic duty to vote for 28 public offices. In order to cast a well-informed vote for each of these offices, I will need to type all 40+ candidates’ names into Google, read each of their homepages and dozens of articles on who knows how many different websites, just to have a clue who each of these people are and what they stand for. How many people do you know who will do this?

We can, and must, make this process 100x easier and more productive. Imagine all of your candidates —federal, state, county, local, and judicial— all sorted on a single page, with their names, bios, campaign funds, profile pictures, and contact information. Now imagine this website without advertisements and never selling or sharing your private information, so no candidate is given an advantage in exchange of money. Would you use a site like that?

We could have (and should have) created this election tool 10 years ago, but we still don’t have it today because first we need to complete the comprehensive US candidate database. As soon as this database is completed, anyone will be able to make a website where you can learn about and interact with all of your candidates on a single page.

The good news is the non-profit, non-partisan VoteSmart.org is well underway creating this database and releasing it for free to the public. The absurd news is VoteSmart receives only $1 for every $10,000 donated to political campaigns. As dedicated as VoteSmart’s volunteers and staff are, they cannot realistically input candidates from all 3,000+ county and 25,000+ towns in the US with this low of a budget. We need a critical mass of people to become aware of VoteSmart’s work and advocate for ethical websites that provide fully comprehensive candidate information in one convenient location.

Regardless of the campaign finance reform laws we pass, if we don’t also create technology that makes it easier to learn about and interact with our candidates, then what we hear from attack ads, telemarketers, and mainstream news coverage will remain all we know on voting day. Our nation cannot have democratic integrity until VoteSmart completes this historic database, so please offer them more frequent public support. Also, ask your organization’s supporters, wouldn’t it be great if you could learn about and contact all of your officials and candidates through one convenient webpage? The first major step to bringing this resource to life is just asking people to imagine it.