Democracy Comes to the Web, with Transpartisan Transparency
BOSTON, MA, November 2, 2006 – In the height of a bitterly fought midterm election campaign season, a new website has launched that rises above the partisan fray. The site, with its tagline “transpartisan transparency,” gives visitors an unprecedented view into election races and stays true to the democratic principle of participation; it allows visitors to vote.
“Democracy Online is special because it has no partisan agenda whatsoever.” says Jason S. White, the site’s founder. “It treats each candidate, including so-called third-party candidates, equally, without hype and without commentary. At their core, elections are just simple data collection processes.” The website reflects that underlying simplicity with it’s clean design, simple controls and clear presentation of voting data.
At a time when major questions and doubts are being raised about electronic voting, White is more optimistic. “The technologies for effective electronic voting exist and are well understood. It is how they are used that needs improvement.” he says. “We need a system that transcends partisan politics and maintains privacy. What is missing the transparency and inclusivity that would support a high level of public trust on an ongoing basis.”
To provide the necessary transparency, White says that he will arrange a review of the source code and audit trails of the website with anyone concerned about flaws and vulnerabilities. “If problems are found, then we’ll identify a solution and fix them.”
On the privacy question, White says that Democracy Online records the fact that a visitor voted in a particular race, but does not tie that information to the vote tally for a given candidate. That ensures that site visitors vote only once in each race, but makes it impossible to discover for whom they voted.
Site administrators are bracing for an onslaught of traffic to the site in this final week of election campaigning. The results will roll in, and the site will no doubt be widely scrutinized. While the website is not government-sponsored or -sanctioned, it is clear that Democracy Online represents another step in finding a place for technology in the electoral process. Could this be the turning over of a new leaf for electronic voting?
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