Hudson Baird is the Co-Founder of VotersAct.com. He studied Public Policy and Financial Economics at Vanderbilt University. He recently worked in Guatemala for a small NGO overseeing their social media and online fundraising. Now with VotersAct fulltime, he brings a familiarity with online donation platforms and peer-to-peer advocacy.
One of the exciting things about the 2012 election is the rise of post-partisan platforms to facilitate engagement and political participation. Early online campaign tools accentuated a movement towards partisanship; databases identified likely voters and new media consultants specialized in tailoring “red” and “blue” messages to online constituencies. They transplanted a facsimile copy of historical outreach to the web. Email replaced direct mail and Google replaced local TV. The rush towards the edges in pursuit of donors and likely voters continued unabated online.
But that’s starting to shift. Independent are becoming the center of attention; companies and databases are forming who emphasize information that matches, instead of shapes, the preferences of voters. That means there’s more information available and more opportunities to get engaged and express your political perspective. There’s a re-emphasis on the center, and a new accentuation in letting voters, instead of campaigns, drive the conversation. It’s an exciting time to be in politics.
Here are nine companies at the vanguard of these changes:
Get the Straight Facts:
Politics in Stereo is the place to find the best state-based political news coverage from across the country and ideological spectrum. Their goal is to bring together the best political reporting in each state with coverage from the Left, the Right, and non-partisan sources to offer readers the best in political coverage.
ElectNext is here to help you vote, and vote well. They facilitate an informed vote in every one of your elections, all the way down your ballot. Rather than relying on party or guesswork, you could choose candidates based on whether they agree with your positions.
Ballotbook uses your address to tell you about every election in your district, from local to national. It then gives you the latest news on each candidate so you can research and compare candidates in one place.
Votifi is the first bipartisan platform built solely for politics in a wireless world, promising the information you want, on the topics you care about. They help you discover stories and conversations that matter most to you and then present people and stories that challenge your perspective.
Support Your Favorite Candidates:
Americans Elect is a nonpartisan Presidential nomination process. They use the Internet to give every single voter the power to nominate a presidential ticket in 2012. In an online convention next June, Americans Elect delegates will select nominees to appear on the ballot in every state.
Voters Act (disclaimer: the author is a co-founder) Want to vote wisely but don’t trust what you’re being told? Here, you can endorse and fundraise for candidates, meaning your friends will hear from you and not TV ads about whom to support. We make grassroots support visible and powerful.
Votocracy uses Facebook to match you with other candidates or voters who think like you. Then you can then share your views, recruit volunteers, and raise funds. They use daily polling to help increase the relevance of your results.
Talk to Elected Officials:
POPVOX bridges the gap between the input the public provides and the information Congress needs to receive. They provide an interface that verifies, aggregates, and simplifies communication between Congress and the public on an open and trusted ground. It is not a discussion forum; it’s a place for action.
Votizen is an online network of voters who are committed to being engaged citizens. They allow members to claim their voter profile, learn about issues and elections, and take collective action with other voters through social media.
What do you think, are we seeing an early trend or a passing fad? What other companies are driving voter engagement?
Leave your thoughts on these websites in the comments!
About the Author Walksheet is a blog dedicated to local campaigning. We hope to be your guide through the political campaign process, and even more so, before you begin the political campaign process! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Read more from this author