Computer-enabled Democracy

Computer-enabled Democracy.

Many scenarios of “electronic democracy,” like direct voting on issues (plebiscites are notoriously manipulable — Hitler used t hem), are downright scary. Deliberation is an important part of the democratic process, and shortcircuiting deliberation is not going to make democracy healthier. Then there's the whole ugly business of untrustworthy computerized voting systems. However, Jason Tester, a recent graduate of the Ivrea Interaction Design Institute in Italy, has come up with a number of scenarios for ways mobile communication devices and computing technologies might be used to enable better democratic participation. The objective of a scenario is to think about what might happen — it isn't a blueprint for the future. I don't know that I agree with the idea of implementing all these ideas, but I find them thought-provoking.

The final concept is Post-Vote Tracking. One of the main reasons for falling voter turnout is a generalized distrust of politicians and a widespread perception that campaign promises will be broken. Post-Vote Tracking would help voters keep tabs on elected politicians' actions during their term in office. First, voters in the booth choose which issues they'd like to track. Using a chosen tracking organization, be it the American Civil Liberties Union or the Wall Street Journal or the Los Angeles Times , enrolled voters would be notified, through whatever technologies they chose, as to how their candidate is or is not following through on campaign promises. Tracking would make elected officials accountable, and it would also make civic involvement in politics a more ongoing process, instead of the every-now-and-then trip to the polls. [Smart Mobs]

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