A change is coming
(March 2004 – October 2007)
embracing apparent contradictions, diversity and change
A change is coming
(March 2004 – October 2007)
Colleen Mondor, Lee Wind, and my brother Gregory K came up with a great idea for a cooperative blogging project at the recent Kid Lit ’08 conference in Portland: people writing about why they personally think that voting matters. Over fifty people wound up participating, and since most of them are writers or reviewers as well as bloggers, it’s no surprise that the results are pretty incredible — deeply personal stories from a variety of perspectives.
And I’m happy to say that Greg followed the Voter Suppression Wiki’s recommended best practices, and included the phone numbers for 1-866-OUR-VOTE and 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA at the end of his post Why I Vote on Gottabook 🙂
On Saturday, Jon hosted a major organizing conference call that became a strategy session for countering voter suppression nationwide. And, so, in a bit of marvelously self-reflexive irony, with Jon’s help, we’ll be using that same approach to make this hour of our show into a kind of national town meeting of the air, by modeling some of the local connections we’re making, while also connecting with others in Jon’s networks doing other important work in localities nationwide. Somewhat confused by all of this? Tune in on Sunday to see how it works in practice…. but, regardless, be sure to join in our conversation by calling us at 321-1670 (local) or 1-877-867-1670 (nationally).
— John Quinlan and Harry Waisbren, Forward Forum.net
These discussions are part of the Voter Suppression Wiki’s October 25-28 Workshop on Last-minute Strategies to Reduce Voter Suppression — see the announcement for more context. We laid some ground work for this in a phone call yesterday, and there are a lot of interesting potential topics to cover — as well as important stuff happening in Wisconsin, as Ed Garvey’s Cheers for the voters! on Fighting Bob describes.
Please join us!
PS: If there are topics you’d like us to cover, either in the on-air discussion or follow-on online, please mail them to email@example.com … or leave them in comments here.
I’ll be appearing on John Quinlan and Harry Waisbren’s show Forward Forum this Sunday from 8-9 CDT, on the air in Madison and streamed live at WTDY. I met Harry working on Get FISA Right, and so we’ll be discussing social network activism in general, looking at some of the experiences I discuss in Reflections and Cognitive diversity and the US 2008 Election. With the election right around the corner, though, we’ll probably be devoting the bulk of our time to election protection projects, including Twitter Vote Report and the Voter Suppression Wiki; and Harry will set this in the broader context of Beyond Iraq: A Time to Break Silence.
Madison is a hotbed of activism and this show has a solid following, so one thing we’re going to try to do is use this appearance to galvanize the cyber-brainstorming on the wiki, collecting good ideas and sparking connections during the show. It’ll also be a great chance to highlight what every voter can do — see Baratunde Thurston’s 12 Ways To Safeguard Your Vote In Under 10 minutes — and give an update on our North Carolina action alert.
In short it should be entertaining, interesting, and useful. Not sure about the details, but there may well be an opportunity for callins or perhaps a live chat — if not during the show, then after. Harry will be getting a blog post with more details up on MadProgress … so please, tune in!
Please take a minute to help by providing test data for an election monitoring project!
Momentum on the Twitter Vote Report continues to build — Nancy Scola and Allison Fine’s excellent update from Monday already looks out of date, and as the steadily-growing partners list implies, we’re making excellent progress towards the ambitious goal of providing national real-time feedback of election problems. Most importantly, we’ve got a logo — designed by TechGrrl Deanna Zandt, and it’s gorgeous!
Also importantly, the planning for Friday’s Jam Session is coming along nicely, including on the software side: we’re getting user stories in place, as well as firming up the grammar for hashtags and the database design. There’s enough in place that people are prototyping the first applications … and this morning, in the chat room, Dave said he was at the point where he could really use some test data for an iPhone app he’s working on.
After posts by me on Pam’s House Blend Sunday night and Baratunde Thurston on Jack and Jill Politics last night, we’re on day three of the Voter Suppression Wiki‘s first-ever action alert. The issue of confusing ballot design where North Carolina “straight party” voters need to make sure to vote for a Presidential candidate as well has been getting noticeably more attention: a couple of excellent posts by Chris Kromm on Facing South [1, 2] go into more detail on the “1% undervote” estimate and the implications of 40,000 or more votes not counting this election, and the Obama Straight Flip video is helping get the word out to Democrats via YouTube.
Of course, many of the people most at risk for losing their vote don’t read political blogs or watch YouTube. And individual experiences in early voting, for example in this thread on NCBlue, vary greatly: some sites have helpful poll workers and “greeters” to remind people, others doen’t, and there’s plenty of room confusion. So we think there’s still plenty of opportunity to help in getting the word out. Baratunde summed it up well:
I would add that you should post this blog item to the walls of your facebook friends who live in North Carolina asking them to spread the word. Email it to family and friends down there. Call them. We cannot let this new voter participation go to waste!
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)’s Technology and Democracy 2.0 report on “e-Deceptive campaign practices” is getting released on Monday, along with a parallel report from Common Cause and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights covering the legal and policy issues. Contributors include computer security legends like Peter Neumann (of Bell Labs, SRI and comp.risks fame) and Bruce Schneier, Erik Nilsson of Computing Professionals for Social Responsibility, Poorvi Vora of George Washington University, Juan Gilbert of the Human Centered Computing Lab of Auburn University, Lillie Coney of EPIC … and me. Pretty illustrious company. Mom will be proud 🙂
“Deceptive campaign practices” has a very specific meaning in election protection work. From EPIC’s announcement:
Deceptive campaigns are attempts to misdirect targeted voters regarding the voting process for public elections. Election activity that would be considered deceptive could include false statements about polling times, date of the election, voter identification rules, or the eligibility requirements for voters who wish to cast a ballot. Historically, disinformation and misinformation efforts intended to suppress voter participation have been systemic attempts to reduce voter participation among low-income, minority, young, disabled, and elderly voters. In 2008, millions of new voters are engaging the political process through Internet communication, which presents an opportunity to review the technology and the incident of e-deceptive campaign practices.
In a classic example of confusing ballot design, a “straight party” vote in North Carolina does not include the presidential contest. If you want to vote for a president, you need to make an additional mark in the presidential contest even if you’ve chosen a straight party vote. (See detailed instructions in the first comment.)
This policy has been in place for over 40 years (added by Dixiecrats in 1967), and historically has resulted in at least a 1% “undervote” — people not choosing a presidential candidate. With huge numbers of new voters this year, there’s a lot of concerns that it could be even higher. While there are signs up in polling places, and many (most?) poll workers give instructions as they give the ballots out, there are already many reports of people mis-voting.
This is exactly the kind of situation where we hope the Voter Suppression Wiki can add a lot of value, supplementing the other educational efforts. So let’s give it a try, and help get the word out!
I started by created an incident page, linking out to various reports of this, including an article in the Charlotte Observer, the snopes.com page, the alert from Black Box Voting.com, and a Daily Kos diary … and a brainstorming thread for ideas about getting the word out more broadly. This is a decent initial reference for anybody wanting to understand or write about the story — or to double-check its validity.
— Howie Klein, Firedoglake, announcing availability of ads for Darcy Burner, Annette Tadeo, Larry Kissell, and other netroots fave Congressional candidates
SaysMe.tv, the LA-based startup that lets individuals run their own cable ads, is firing on all cylinders these days. As well as the Blue America partnership, there’s also the Wow of Now pro-Obama site, and the Women Against McCain Palin campaign, announced here on Oxdown ten days ago, running some hard-hitting ads with rape victims speaking out on Sarah Palin’s views. Go SaysMe.tv!
Within an hour after the announcement of the Voter Protection Wiki, we were tipped off that there’s another voting rights wiki in town, and it’s a doozy. And sure enough, today SourceWatch is announcing the Election Protection wiki.* From their announcement:
Recent presidential elections were marred by controversies and disputes. Scores of individuals and organizations have been working to investigate and reform US elections, issuing reports and information on topics such as electronic voting machines, voter suppression campaigns and student voting rights. However, this information is spread across many different websites, news sources and databases. The Election Protection Wiki seeks to provide a single web portal for accessing this disparate information. Its information is non-partisan and factual; anyone of any political persuasion will be able to both read from and write to the wiki to help us all protect every American’s right to vote.
SourceWatch is best known for Congresspedia and their “Superdelegate Transparency Project”; they’ve got experience, a community, paid staff, and excellent connections with politicians and non-profits in DC and all over the country. It’s a great thing for American democracy.
Apologies to my friends and relatives for being out of touch this summer….
Rather than going to the beach, I instead hung out in a variety of exotic online locales: my.barackobama.com, Wetpaint, Facebook, and the blogosphere (especially OpenLeft, Shakesville, Pam’s House Blend, and Jack and Jill Politics). It was kind of a working vacation, engaging in and observing activism projects while thinking about the chapter on social network activism for Tales from the Net. With the equinox and fall upon us, it seems like a good time to take stock.
Get FISA Right‘s start as a group of Senator Obama’s supporters using my.barackobama.com (myBO) to put pressure on him, and then evolving to a “50-state strategy”, really highlights the power of social network-based movements. We quickly became the largest group on myBO, and then Obama replied to our open letter* giving more details about his position on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) amendment than he had discussed with the press. Even though he didn’t change his position, sometimes all you can say is “w00t w00t!”
At that point, we cracked the mainstream media (MSM) in a big way: The NY Times! Time! Meet the Press! And I did my part too: on Radio Nation’s Air America, mentions in a bunch of articles including the Washington Post and Wired, a brief snippet on CNN … fifteen seconds of fame 🙂