This is Social Venture Network member Kim Cranston’s new initiative. Here’s the email from him:
I’m writing to let you know that we have launched the public beta version of TransparentDemocracy. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the site and want to encourage you to forward this email to anyone who you think might find TransparentDemocracy of interest, especially for educating voters about statewide ballot measures and other contests this November or shareholders about corporate proxy contests in 2009.
Millions of first time and other voters who will vote for our next president this November 4 will not vote on ballot measures and in other important contests if they are unsure about how to vote (in the general election in California in 2004, over 1 Million – nearly 10% – fewer votes were cast for ballot measures than in the presidential contest). This election, there are 153 ballot measures on 35 statewide ballots, with voters deciding measures concerning the economy, the environment, alternative energy, constitutional and civil rights, reproductive rights, prison reform, education, and other important issues.
TransparentDemocracy will increase informed voting and turnout on ballot measures and other contests by letting voters who are unsure about how to vote see how people and organizations they trust recommend they vote.
To see how TransparentDemocracy works:
1. Go to: http://www.transparentdemocracy.org
2. Find the California Ballot.
3. Scroll down to a Ballot Measure, e.g., Proposition 8.
4. Check the boxes next to the people or organizations you trust (or want to see the recommendations of) in the “Select Your Sources” tool to the left of the ballot.
5. For one of the Propositions, e.g., Proposition 8, select “Show all # Sources For This Contest” (just below “Contest Details”).
6. Scroll over one of the listed Sources to see if there is a statement supporting its position or if there is a reference to a source for more information.
7. Explore “Contest Details”.
8. Mark and print your ballot.
This is a beta release, a work in progress – like all of our democratic institutions – so you’ll probably find a few bugs (please use the alert system to let us know what you find). We also hope you’ll help us test our “Become a Sponsor” and “Donate Now” systems:)
We are currently “reporting” the positions of some sources on ballot measures in order to “seed” the Source system; we have already done this for Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington, and are quickly doing this for the remaining states with ballot measures. “Sources” are beginning to use our platform to let more voters know how they recommend they vote this November, starting with the California League of Conservation Voters and the Consumer Federation of California.
Our “sample” ballot-centric, open “Source” system allows any organization or individual to publish their recommendations and supporting information, which voters can then (1) filter a variety of ways and rate, and (2) use to make their own recommendations to share with friends.
The Ballot Measure Voter Turnout project is the first application of a platform built to increase trust, communication, accountability, and responsiveness in our democratic institutions that are having difficulty addressing the major challenges we face.
The second application of the platform – the Corporate Shareholder Proxy Ballot Guide – will cover all proxies with contested shareholder resolutions in 2009 (we’ve already published 40 proxy ballots that include 98 shareholder proposals from the 2008 proxy season, which we’ve relabeled as “preliminary” proxy ballots for 2009 as many of them will be voted on again next year).
To see how the Proxy Guide works:
1. Find the proxy for Exxon Mobil.
2. Scroll down to one of the Shareholder Proposals, e.g., “Proposal 17 Climate Change and Technology Report”.
3. For the selected Proposal, e.g., “Proposal 17”, Select “Show all 2 Sources This Contest”.
4. Scroll over one of the listed Sources to see if there is a statement supporting its position or if there is a reference to a source for more information.
The Corporate Shareholder Proxy Ballot Guide will provide significant value by:
1. Allowing proponents of shareholder resolutions to publish anything they wish for shareholder consideration.
2. Allowing organizations and individuals who are not the proponents of a shareholder resolution to (a) publish their recommendations (and supporting information) in TransparentDemocracy and (b) display their recommendation on their own website.
3. Making it much easier for shareholders to find recommendations from organizations and individuals they trust so they can better vote their values.
Larry Lessig calls TransparentDemocracy “a tool that will radically remake our connection to our democracy,” and recently wrote a very nice blog about us: http://www.lessig.org/blog/ that has encouraged many people to visit the site.
Our marketing effort recently benefited from a Google Grant for free advertising, and actors, including Ed Begley, Jr. and Mike Farrell, are helping us promote the site so more voters will be encouraged to vote on ballot measures and other important contests this election.
Please let me know of any ideas you have about this, and please forward this email to anyone who you think might provide support to TransparentDemocracy or use it to educate voters about statewide contests this November or shareholders about corporate proxy contests in 2009. I hope you’ll also consider supporting our work.
ALSO: Source Watch http://www.SourceWatch.org
Election Protection Wiki http://www.EPwiki.org
Today it was in the New York Times: “There are at least two wikis intended to let voters collaborate to collect examples of problems with voting, whether exceptionally long lines or more direct actions meant to scare off voters – the Voter Suppression Wiki andSourceWatch’s Election Protection Wiki ” See the article at this link: