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Saving Democracy With Web 2.0

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the hear-hear-hear dept.


Wired is running a piece about how "Web 2.0" (still hate that buzz word) can save democracy this upcoming election date. Web 2.0 hyperbole aside, the piece itself covers the extent of the different mapping tools, get out the vote, finding who funds a candidate and other election candies. Good round-up story.

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How appropriate... (1, Funny)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 7 years ago | (#16736949)

Nothing for you to see here... move along.

I've heard this bedtime story before (2, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737001)

Really, this is no different than initial utopian claims about how the internet will change everything, bring people together, cause world peace, eliminate hunger, and usher in a new era of universal well being.

More tools are great, and making information easily accessible is a Good Thing. Calling politicians on their sources of funding is always positive, and holding politicians accountable for the things they say and the promises they make is fantastic.

But no matter how available you make the information, it only matters if people care enough to find out. That's the advantage the traditional media have: given US culture, it's a push medium. It brings information to people, rather than wating for people retrieve the information. The implication of an article like this is that the threat to democracy is unavailability of information, which isn't true - or at least, is far from the whole story.

The real threat to democracy is people who don't really care about what's going on in government. People who have voted straight ticket in every election since they were 18 (and are proud of the fact!) are the problem. People who consider themselves members of a Team Republican or Team Democrat are the problem. People who don't know who's on the ballot until they show up to vote are the problem. It's a combination of apathy, cynicism, and misguided loyalty that is the problem.

This "web 2.0" phenomenon that the article discusses is, in a sense, the same as the "get out the vote" initiatives that come out every election cycle. When you come right down to it, if someone's only going to vote because MTV told them to, it's probably someone that shouldn't be voting*. If someone doesn't care enough about the process to know who stands for what and to take the time to go vote without being harangued by some celebrity, then that person should have just stayed home; we might as well roll dice to determine who gets elected.

All the tools that are now available for information disclosure are great tools, and they make the job of a responsible voter easier. But they won't make someone who doesn't care in the first place suddenly care unless the information is forced in front of him - which is exactly the information model that the web doesn't match up to. Helping informed voters become better informed is a great thing, but it's not going to save democracy.

*No, this doesn't mean I would ever advocate any kind of system to "validate" voters. Every citizen gets to vote if he wants to, and anything that begins to change that is abhorrent to the very idea of democracy. Nor would I restrict the right of any person or group to encourage people to vote. But that doesn't change the fact that the people who only vote because the TV told them to are very likely to cast unconsidered votes, which is not an ideal situation. Then, of course, there's the problem that any group pushing people to go vote is, almost certainly, pushing people to go vote the way that group wants them to - and the people being convinced don't even know that they're being pushed to a specific political position, rather than just being encouraged to exercise their franchise.

Re:I've heard this bedtime story before (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737087)

"get out the vote" initiatives that come out every election cycle.

Back in the day this process was pretty straight forward, all it took was five bucks and a bottle of Wild Turkey per vote.


Re:I've heard this bedtime story before (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737419)

All I got was to keep my kneecaps.

I feel so ripped off.

Re:I've heard this bedtime story before (2, Interesting)

fossa (212602) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737139)

I wonder how removing party designations from ballots, randomizing the candidate order on each ballot, or providing completely blank ballots and requiring a full name be written, would affect the polls, implementation issues aside. The goal would be minimizing the effect of ignorant votes.

Re:I've heard this bedtime story before (2, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737503)

I'm all for it, except for the name-writing requirement. I've written too much code to trust arbitrary input compared to menu choices. This would result in too many valid, considered ballots being discarded for reasons irrelevant to the election (spelling errors, for example).

Now, providing a menu of all the offices to be filled on one side, and a menu of all the candidates on the other side (with no reference to the office for which each is running, of course)...then we'd be on to something.

Re:I've heard this bedtime story before (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737523)

Are you talking about removing the party designation printed next to the candidate's name or the designation on the top of the ballot in partisan races? Removing the candidate's party only helps keep the voter from voting a straight party line by looking at the party. It won't help when they use a slate card given to them by their local political party or interest group to help them mark their ballot. A surprising number of people do this. Removing the name from the ballot in a primary election (it doesn't appear on general elections) would lead to some confusion as people wouldn't be certain whether they had gotten the correct ballot.

Randomizing the order of names would lead to confusion. A whole lot of people use their sample ballots to help them mark their ballot. If the real ballot is different than their sample ballot, it's going to take them longer to find the name. A surprising number of people are very nervous about voting - throwing additional confusion would make their job a lot harder.

Please, please, please don't give people a blank ballot. Have you ever had a job that required you to read people's handwriting? If you did, you'd know why this is a bad idea. Most people have terrible handwriting.

How would this lead to a reduction of ignorant votes? They'll have exactly the same information when entering the voting booths as they have today; forcing them through additional hoops will make them all the less likely to want to vote.

Re:I've heard this bedtime story before (1)

Kijori (897770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737743)

How would this lead to a reduction of ignorant votes? They'll have exactly the same information when entering the voting booths as they have today; forcing them through additional hoops will make them all the less likely to want to vote.
That's the point. Why shouldn't voting be restricted to people that know what the candidate stands for, or at least has one reason for voting for that person over an opponent? Not that I'm necessarily in favour of it, just think it's an interesting point.

Re:I've heard this bedtime story before (2, Insightful)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737963)

And who gets to decide what level of "candidate education" is acceptable? The government (ie. the currently empowered political party)? For that matter, what criteria are we testing? It's not such a big jump from testing 'knowledge' to what basically amounts to a litmus exam: "I see you filled in agreement with the War on Terror/NSA Wiretaps/Social Secuirty/[Immigration stance]... I'm afraid we can't let you vote today. Please re-educate yourself and report back next year." If you really believe that Diebold equates to the death of Democracy in this country, then this isn't such a big leap.

I find it funny, and more than a little sad, that the new voting machines have taken so much flak, but a suggestion like this gets aired openly. The saddest part is that I know a lot of people who would seriously consider asking people if they agree with GWB and the War (etc) before they are permitted to vote. (And to be fair, I know at least as many people who would say the same thing if you agreed with pulling out of Iraq, stopping NSA wiretaps, etc...) Funny how the more you point fingers at someone, the more you start to become what you claim they are.

Re:I've heard this bedtime story before (1)

diersing (679767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737535)

It would create mass confusion - outside the 'big' elections (President, Governor, maybe a Senate or Congressional seat) the local elections would grind to a halt as most people couldn't name either candidate.

You want minimize the effect of ignorant votes - require candidates to complete a simple YEA/NAY survey on the issues - if I had half an idea of where the candidates actually stood my vote would be far more educated. Instead we get inundated with negative campaign odds where we end up choosing the lesser of two evils.

Wording matters (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737711)

require candidates to complete a simple YEA/NAY survey on the issues

Sounds good, until you ask the question: who gets to write the survey that states the issues? How the question is asked can make quite a difference. Choosing which questions to ask also makes a difference. For example, I've seen very few politicians state their position on any environmental issue. I don't recall seeing any of the politicians I'm voting for in this election make any environmental statements. Maybe each party on the ticket could submit a list of n "issues" worded the way they choose to word it, and each politician needs to vote yea/nay/pass on every issue. In such a case, however, 3rd (or nth) party candidates might have a bigger impact. IMO, that's a Good Thing.

So, basically, I guess it still sounds good to me.

Re:Wording matters (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737961)

All you would have to do is require that they be honest!

Re:Wording matters (1)

diersing (679767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737977)

Who would write it? Lawyers of course, most politicians are lawyers and know how to make an issue statement without taking a stance, only another lawyer could compose a question in such a way to make a candidate pick a side. These could be used to 'score' our politicians to see how often they stray from their declared position. Of course this would have to coupled with that add-on bills - for example, a law comes to vote that would require all sex offenders to register and make tracking online available so we can lookup who's living in our neighborhoods - what politician would vote against it and stand with child molesters right? But at the last minute someone tags on a huge spending bill that will fund additional big oil breaks and further suppress alternative energy research (or something else unrelated to the spirit/nature of the bill that otherwise wouldn't pass). This happens far more then we care to know about, but that single YEA vote suddenly counts for being for two different (and possibly opposing) stances.

Its not a mature idea, but a Voter Information Packet is something that is long overdue IMHO. An independent identical survey seems like it would work, of course it may also point out how often the candidates agree and further merge to two parties as they fight for mainstream/center votes. Damn I wish there was a Center Party that combined the conservative financial ideals with the liberal social conscience.

Re:I've heard this bedtime story before (1)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737625)

I love the idea of removing party designations, especially for judges. But I think that having an all write-in ballot would greatly reduce voter turnout. With those damn e-Slate machines, it's very hard to write in somebody's name. I think people would just give up and not vote at all. Maybe the candidates would legally change their names to "Rep Ublican" and "Demo Crat" to subvert the system. Vote Kinky!

Re:I've heard this bedtime story before (1)

ranton (36917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737633)

or providing completely blank ballots and requiring a full name be written

That is absolutely the best idea I have ever heard (as far as election reform goes). If you do not even know the name of the person you are voting for then why in the hell did you show up?

Unfortunatly they would probably just stick their heads out of the ballot box and ask a guy standing in line what that one "John" guy's last name is.


I disagree in part (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737153)

The main inhibitor to the efficiency of democracy (at least in the U.S.) is not -- you're correct -- a lack of information. It's the outdated system by which information is *legitimated.

That system, which in a nutshell is "media conglomerates tell the unwashed masses what is true" can and will be outdated by decentralized tools. I don't think mySpace is going to save the proletariat, but the fact is that empowerment-in-general grew with the free flow of information, and it will grow again with reliable, objective (and egalitarian!) ways of sorting the good information from the bad.

Re:I disagree in part (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737331)

It's already been outdated by centralized tools. By pretty much any metric, news is better on the internet than on TV/radio (wider variety of sources to help counteract bias, more details for each item of interest, greater availability of primary sources, greater availability of raw data, greater variety of topics available, etc). But that doesn't mean that it has taken over for traditional media in the general population, because it require more work to go get the information than it does to be told the information.

That's a fight against laziness, and that's a fight that, if it even can be won, won't be won for quite some time.

Re:I disagree in part (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737367)


"outdated by centralized tools" should be "outdated by decentralized tools."

Nothing like typos that completely invert the intent of what you wrote. Sorry, and all that.

FTA (1)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737007)

FTA: Many Americans believe that our political system is broken, and that money is to blame. Legislators are beholden to donations from special interest groups. Regulators pass through a revolving door to take jobs in the very industries they used to regulate. Big campaign donors somehow land big government contracts, despite arcane public bidding processes.

This is exactly the problem. I wonder if this will help though. Beware the media/government/corporate complex and interlocking directorships.

Re:FTA (1)

toetagger1 (795806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737753)

This is exactly the problem. I wonder if this will help though. Beware the media/government/corporate complex and interlocking directorships.
you misspelled DICTATORSHIP

Not really.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737013)

Internet does not have the same level of penetration as the mainstream media (TV and newspapers). It will, one day, but then the PR machine will make sure web2.0 (or 3.0) will be as tainted as present day TV to make sure voters are far away from reality.

Sorry - nobody can save democracy - at least in US.

It's worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737015)

For one voter who may seek information through the Web there are 10 voters who only watch Fox News.

The war on laziness has been lost for ages...

Re:It's worthless (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737773)

And 10 more who only watch MTV.

I'm not sure which is worse: a half-educated voter who may be mislead by their media outlet of choice, or a non-educated voter who only votes because some halfwit musician on MTV told them to.

Re:It's worthless (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#16738039)

I would say the half-educated one....since the non educated one would simply be doing what some educated person told them...supposedly

Democracy needs technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737017)

I would say that if we really want to save democracy we'll go out of our way to try and keep technology out of it. Look at electronic voting machines (I know there not technically web2.0) - they are the single biggest threat to democracy we face at the moment. As for actual Web2.0 stuff (I hate that buzzword so much - when will we be in web2.0, how will we know, does anyone care?...) you have political online TV without any oversight shooting out propaganda 24/7, all the politics on the web is pretty much inane

Democracy is a buzzword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737021)

Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner. I guess Constitutional Republic doesn't flow off the tongue very well. Or it is calculated ignorance.

Re:Democracy is a buzzword (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737411)

I saw a T-shirt at a science fiction convention with a quote from Ben Franklin: "Democracy is a sheep sitting down with two lions; liberty is one well-armed sheep."

Re:Democracy is a buzzword (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737559)

That t-shirt missed the point of the jest. The lions/sheep have to be voting one dinner.

"Benjamin Franklin observed that democracy is two wolves and a sheep holding an election to decide what to have for dinner, and that liberty is a well-armed sheep vigorously contesting the election result."

The problem with that statement in today's government is that if you were to do so, you would be labeled a domestic terrorist. You would be detained, your rights to habias corpus stripped, shipped overseas, tortured, and then locked away.


Re:Democracy is a buzzword (1)

CamDawg (970808) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737919)

That's not a Ben Franklin quote [] , though its many variations are often (mis)attributed to him.

But, I thought... (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737027)

.NET was supposed to save democracy, or was that Linux. Wait, I know, Bush was supposed to save democracy. All I know is I heard the RAZOR, that was another scooter that was supposed to save democracy.

Here in Seattle, we have fancey $500k toilets that clean themselves. That's supposed to save democracy. Well, actually, they're a haven for prostitutes and drug dealers. There I go again, back on .Net and Linux. But, which is which? You decide, your vote counts. DEMOCRACY.

Re:But, I thought... (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#16738105)

ok, you got me all curious now: why do prostitutes and drug dealers like the toilets?

Web 2.0? (1)

xdxfp (992259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737039)

When does Web 2.1 come out?

Re:Web 2.0? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737271)

Web 2.1 is currently in beta.. It will be released "soon"

Re:Web 2.0? (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737563)

When does Web 2.1 come out?

It's been cheecked into svn for weeks.

Yes, but... (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737051)

What good do all of these tools do if we cannot protect the mechanisms of voting? Transparency is a good thing, but it only goes so far. I do not understand why so many places are moving to electronic machines after decades of success with other devices. (I am personally a big fan of mechanical lever machines.)

More distraction (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737441)

Eh. Voting machines are just another distraction from the real problem: democracy is dead in the US. There are only two parties even allowed to be on the ballot in most states, and many states even throw away write-in votes. At this point, it's like voting for Coke or Pepsi. There is no real choice, but people like to think that they have a real choice to make a real difference. It's 100% bullshit. The Democrats and Republicans are just playing good cop/bad cop. They're both happy as long as they can have half of the power and money, and the people are contented enough to think that they actually have a choice.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737529)

Electonic machines are supposed to reduce the human element in deciding if a ballot chad was hanging, loose and/or pregnant. The only thing we have to work about is the machine was hacked and/or tilted to Republican.

This story is a follow-up to last year's... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737055)

How the Blink Tag Can End the Two-Party Duopoly.

Web 2.0 Saving Democracy? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737075)

After 236 years of elections, both fair and foul, we need Web 2.0 to save deomcracy?! Sounds like a bunch of soon-to-be unemployed Republican policy wonks looking for a new angle to sell their snake oil.

Re:Web 2.0 Saving Democracy? (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737101)

nah, wouldn't they just clog the tubes or something and prevent this from working?

Re:Web 2.0 Saving Democracy? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737161)

I assumed this article was saying democracy had failed because the republicans were in office. It's interesting how our own personal views can change interpretation.

Re:Web 2.0 Saving Democracy? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737297)

No, no, no. If democracy is failing, it's because we have a two-party system that's more interested in what goes on in the Beltway and whatever the talking heads are preaching that day. I very much doubt that Web 2.0 will change that for the better. After tomorrow, I expect quite a few Republican policy wonks to be out of the job. Does it really matter that I'm a moderate Republican from California?

Re:Web 2.0 Saving Democracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737601)

Why is this modded down? It's 100% true. No one was complaining about democracy being dead until Republicans gained control of Congress and the White House. Suddenly every intellectual in the world started talking about how "democracy was dead in America".

It isn't. It's alive and well. People vote Republican because, here's a shocking concept, THEY AGREE WITH THEM! If you look at a map of the United States, you'll notice that most of America is represented by Republicans. That's exactly how the system is supposed to work.

Democracy (in the new-aged meaning of a constitutional representative republic) is not dead in America. Most people support the Republicans, so they're currently in power. No matter what the so-called "intellectuals" think, Americans as a whole mostly vote Republican. That may change on Tuesday (I'd hope not or then America will be in serious trouble), but that's the way it's supposed to work. No matter what the left-wing thinkers that dominate "intellectuals" want us to believe.

out of curiosity... (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737975)

why is the method of voting, the operation of government, only a problem when Republicans win?

I mean, c'mon now, the old voting systems were nearly always rigged. It became so common place people joked about it. Government has ALWAYS been about who had the money.

Ever since the Big Deal, when we started being more concerned having the government look after us, instead of us watching the government it does not matter who is in power. People are apathetic because they cannot see how they can do anything.

Got to love it, my friend who teaches has been told to vote for specific people by her UNION. All of course not official but they do it anyway. It isn't that people who associate with one party that don't think for themselves its just that most people would rather blame a bad vote on someone else.

Easily rigged machines (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737077)

How can Web 2.0 change the fact that lots of votes go through easily rigged voting machines?

Re:Easily rigged machines (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737243)

I dont know how to answer about the rigging and all, but my machine says 52% republican.

Web 1.0 can do that (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737079)

... web 2.0 just makes it prettier...

Re:Web 1.0 can do that (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737165)

. . .while providing the illusion of participation. How apropos.


Other Features of Web 2.0 Include: (2, Funny)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737107)

* Solve world hunger
* Cure cancer
* Revive the dead
* Talk to God
* End poverty
* Find your soul mate
* Kill Chuck Norris

What else am I missing? Help me out, people!

Re:Other Features of Web 2.0 Include: (1)

fritzk3 (883083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737147)

You forgot: * Building the $100 laptop * Stopping global warming * Fixing the hole in the ozone layer * Stopping Slashdot dupes

You had me, up till (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737171)

Stopping Slashdot Dupes

Re:Other Features of Web 2.0 Include: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737205)

* Post insightful stories on Slashdot
* Get you laid
* Clean your mom's basement

err wait a minute ...

Re:Other Features of Web 2.0 Include: (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737499)

Only if you synergize it with hemp.


Re:Other Features of Web 2.0 Include: (1) (886486) | more than 7 years ago | (#16738077)

The first thing Web 2.0 did when it became sentient was to locate Elvis.
He sent his regards. By an XSS contact form.
Then it sentenced mankind to death.

No laws against missleading web pages... (2, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737135)

The real good news is that the web gets around all those pesky laws stopping you from telling lies about the political subjects or canidates you dont like.

In fact, there's nothing stopping me from saying things like Mesure A (a public transit initiative where I am) will kill babies, and all who support it will feast on the baby meat!

What pesky laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737513)

I'm guessing from your sig, you might not much too much TV, but I do. Here in Bucks County, the ads are almost universally trash from all parties. They all find clever ways to wrap the candidates and positions in families and flags and find clever ways to frame the opposing candidate or position as supporting child rape. Even the guy I'm voting for runs trash ads. They work. The pinhead electorate buys it. No law will eliminate the scumminess of politics. Only the electorate can do that. And they are clearly part of the problem.

I'd hate to think what our Wild West internet will look like with all these fine folks to make more great laws for us to obey. Committees to approve our web pages and such. Then the web might be as clean as TV or print media.

Re:What pesky laws? (1)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737643)

Give them all the same amount of cash to campaign with, give them 6 weeks only to campaign. I'm tired of watching the millions disappear into trash ads 12 months before the vote.

Re:What pesky laws? (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737775)

Even the guy I'm voting for runs trash ads. They work. The pinhead electorate buys it.

Yes, yes they do.

Save Democracy, or save Fake Democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737179)

Representational democracy, what we have here in America, is a sham, a farce, and not a true democracy. Its food, in the way jello is food. Fake food, the illusion of food without the substance or nutrition. Being able to vote every four years, for people who you have no clue what they stand for on the local level, to represent your ideas, is a total farce.

For true democracy, people should have the opportunity to directly participate in government and vote on individual laws which they must live under. I can't ever remember ever having the opportunity to vote on any law, most of which have been passed by people who are now long since dead.

ANARCHY TV debutted yesterday, on Guy Fawkes Day. Check it out! []

Re:Save Democracy, or save Fake Democracy (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737575)

No, the direct democracy that you describe is worse. It means only activists with lots of free time get a say. People who are always busy and tired get very little influence. Being always busy and tired is more common among the poor than among the rich, so the poor get vastly underrepresented.

What you need is politicians who are regular people, close to the rest of the people; media that first and foremost scrutinize everything the politicians do, well aware that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance; and a people who are aware enough to buy such media.

Re:Save Democracy, or save Fake Democracy (1)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737587)

Apparently you don't vote. There's many referendums every year, and I'm sure there's still a lot for your personal state, city, district.

If you don't vote don't complain, if you don't know the issues you vote on, don't complain, but you've had the opportunity even if you didn't know. The fact you know nothing about the voting process isn't an excuse.

While this is representational democracy for the most part, you don't vote once every four years, if you actually care you vote EVERY YEAR! If you belong to a party you vote in primaries. It's not even hard to know when a vote is. Most voting boards send out information talking about upcoming votes, maybe it's time you actually got involved, rather then complaining about it.

"Election day"... of what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737211)

For the benefits of foreigners, can someone elaborate on this "election day"? Why can't Slashdot or Wired name it? Something like "November 7 is the **** election". What is at stake exactly?

Midterms (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#16738041)

On years divisible by 2 but not by 4, we elect "midterms [] ". Midterms are the office assistants that do the work that neither pages nor interns wish to do.

too late (1)

yoth (862235) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737217)

i heard that W already knows about the internets.

my wish for election 2006 (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737223)

My one major wish for this election is for the mainstream press to give some breakdown numbers that show precinct-by-precinct-by-ballot-type totals. Does Diebold seem as party-neutral as other electronic tally machines? Do paper-trailed machines disagree strongly with pull-lever machine totals? Does optical scan seem to lean to the Preservatives? Does punchcard seem to go to the Libertines?

Even if everything looks mostly kosher with regards to the final vote totals, it would plant the seed that shows that it's not just what you vote, it's who counts your vote.

Re:my wish for election 2006 (1)

balsy2001 (941953) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737351)

My wish for the 2006 election is that "None of the above" be implemented on the ballot. Then if say 30% of the people vote none of the above we have a new election.

Re:my wish for election 2006 (1)

oojah (113006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737759)

... with none of the previous candidates being allowed to stand again.

(I'm from Britain, not the US)



Re:my wish for election 2006 (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737781)

My wish for the 2006 election is that "None of the above" be implemented on the ballot.
That's who I voted for in my state's Senate election. A lot better than the other guys running.

Re:my wish for election 2006 (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737433)

How about the press staying out of the election all together?
No more opinion pieces, no more endorsing candidates, and NO MORE POLLS.
They just publish what the candidates say?

Re:my wish for election 2006 (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737599)

They just publish what the candidates say?

Candidate R: My opponent supports terrorism and hate America!
Candidate D: My opponent is a fascist and hate America!

Re:my wish for election 2006 (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737819)

I think you misunderstood what he said. He wants a change, not exactly what already happens.

Re:my wish for election 2006 (1)

businessnerd (1009815) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737857)

This information would be interesting, but there are too many variables involved to make any kind of conclusions about which voting methods actually lean in any particular way. The problem is that the various types of voting methods are not evenly distributed among all states and districts. For instance, the district that I am currently registered in is a very republican district, yet it is in a consistently blue state. This district, to the best of my knowledge, has usually had "cutting edge" voting booths. My first memories were mechanical lever, and by the time I was in Jr. High, they had electronic machines that were essentially a white board with a light next to the candidate you voted for (last i voted in a booth, this was still in use, although I've been voting absentee for the past four years. Tomorrow will be my first time in a booth in some time, so we'll see what I get). So someone looking at my district would be able to say that "District X" uses electronic machines and leans to the right, with an overwhelming number of "straight" ballots. There must be a defect! Well no, it just turns out that the voters in District X are all C-level execs for major multi-national corporations who have always voted republican in every election since becoming rich and moving to the area (which is the true case).

Better Democracy with instant runoff elections (1)

openright (968536) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737265)

Web information and discussion can help people be informed,
but with a stale two party system, people mostly vote for "the lesser of two evils".

Only with some kind of runoff voting system will there be results more true to the public choice.

"Instant runoff" means that you that you can have some backup choices in case your first choice fails.

There are some different ways to do instant runoff,
but they are all more democratic than the dual party system in place now.

Re:Better Democracy with instant runoff elections (1)

jordanhh (959627) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737565)

unfortunately you fall victim to one of the classic blunders...sorry wrong movie anyway the problem with what you're saying is that you view the public as having a single feeling of what is in their interest and that democracy can every adequately represent this public interest. Unfortunately that's impossible, Kenneth Arrow, won a nobel prize for stating essentially that no method of aggregation can come up with a completely fair estimate of the public interest. In large part because of cycling ala one person likes a>b>c another b>c>a and a third c>a>b in this sort of scenario there is no such thing as a condercet winner(one that beats all the others) because B beats C, A beats B and C beats A. in reality no method including instant runoffs is completely fair they just bring about a different winner without improving the overall "fairness" level additional arguments can be made because of strategic voting where individuals purposely misrepresent their vote in order to avoid their worst outcome.

Theoretically possible (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#16738085)

But highly improbable. Many political scientists have pointed out that in the real world, having enough people who prefer A to B to C, enough people who prefer B to C to A, and enough people who prefer C to A to B, means that the Condorcet method is perfectly viable. If you want to make it as good as the current system, just state that in the extremely unlikely scenario above, the one with the most first-place (or least last-place if you prefer) votes wins.

Yeah yeah yeah except it really doesn't matter (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737291)

Not until you get your electoral system fixed first.

e.g. tation []


Re:Yeah yeah yeah except it really doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737477)

No matter how electoral system you will choose, all of them are more or less broken.

A common error is to think that voting will decide the future of our country for X years. Except it you vote for an extreme-(right/left)wing (candidate/party), that's mainly false.

Elections are only the visible part of the political iceberg. Those who make the real decisions are individuals, groups and companies which most of them are not elected. If you really want to do something about those decisions, you have to play the game, start lobbying and gain some influence over them. You need lots of time, money and, depending about what's you're lobbying for and aginst, be prepared fo face many kind of threats (even in a "Democratic" country like USA). And above all, you can't do that by yourself alone.

This is the only way to get things done, accept it. Elections are nothing but a small tool which make most people think that they can decide what's best for their country.

If it's in Wired, you know it's crap. (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737369)

Good rule of thumb for anyone who invests in or works with technology:
If it's in "Wired", you know it's crap.

Realize this: Democracy is wrong (3, Insightful)

TonyXL (33244) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737373)

Democracy is the most vile form of government... democracies have ever
been spectacles of turbulence and contention: have ever been found
incompatible with personal security or the rights of property:
and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent
in their deaths.
-James Madison

That is why our country was founded as a Constitutional Republic where FREEDOM, not democracy, was the ideal. Unfortunately, we are drifting away from freedom towards democracy, which has given us a bigger, more instrusive, and more corrupt federal government.

Re:Realize this: Democracy is wrong (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737667)

If 50% + 1 person votes to kill an ethnic group, guess what happens in a democracy?

Wow, the rights of the minority are nonexistent. Better hope you don't end up in that minority.

Re:Realize this: Democracy is wrong (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737859)

If 50% + 1 person votes to kill an ethnic group, guess what happens in a democracy?
Even worse, if there is only a 60% turnout and the winners get 40% then we have government by 24% of the electorate.

Yes, that means you TB.

Bring on proportional representation ...

Re:Realize this: Democracy is wrong (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737913)

Sorry, but apathy is no excuse.

I see people that dont vote as happy with the majority decision. If they wern't happy, they'd vote.

How the Web Polarized Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737401)

From a Q&A CIO Insight published with web content expert Gerry McGovern: "It's easy to get carried away with this Wired magazine view of 'All You Need is Web 2.0,' but in some ways the very technology that is meant to solve problems merely makes people more emotional---not more reasonable. We ultimately do a disservice to society by creating this euphoria about what technology can really deliver." The full piece can be found at:,1540,2052119, 00.asp []

Why save democracy? (2, Insightful)

mulhollandj (807571) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737413)

Democracy is just tyranny of the majority. A 51% vote by the people still doesn't give them moral authority to take my land. Government only has power which people give it and people can only give power which they themselves hold. This includes defense of life, liberty, property, and little else.

Re:Why save democracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737673)

Sure, but democracy is the least bad political system we know of.

Mmmmmm... Web 2.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737417)

Is there anything it can't do?

Vote NO! to Web 2.0! (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737435)

Web 2.0 is not on our side! Look at Web 2.0's track record:

Web 2.0 has done nothing to protect the environment. Under Web 2.0's watch our harmful green house gas emissions have INCREASED!

Web 2.0 has never prosecuted violent offenders!

Web 2.0 failed to vote for a resolution that would put child molesters behind bars!

Web 2.0 funnels millions of dollars through thousands of corporations and special interest groups. There have even been ties to Phillip Morris (big tabacco)!

Web 2.0 stood by doing nothing while America went to war!

Gotta love the campaign season commercials.


If you want election advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737447)

Just take it from parties with a vested intrest :,7340,L-3324310, 00.html []

They basically say that you get the choice of where to fight islam's jihad : in iraq ... or ... in america. Right now tens of thousands of terrorists try to blow up well-armed and well-prepared soldiers in iraq, funded by billions of oil money from saoudi arabia (sunni) and iran (shia), they could shift their focus to the united states if there is no more reason to fight in iraq.

So do you stay, or retreat ?

Just remember one simple thing : why do people fight ? Because they think they can win through pure violence. The US can actually win, the terrorists cannot, and while they attack iraq tens of other muslim countries are being liberated because these assholes are leaving. If america stays in iraq it will be next to worshipped for 20-30 years or longer when the country stabilizes (see south korea, see europe, see ...). If america leaves, it will be demonized and attacked by tens of others. Every defeat will prolong the war for at least 10 years. And no, they can't win. But they can do a lot of damage before they lose.

So which is it ?

(and this is a political discussion and I will be villified anyway so I'm posting anonymous) (1)

mulhollandj (807571) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737457)

I setup in order to allow candidates to run without a lot of money and still get their message across. People don't need to spend millions of dollars on campaigns and therefore do not need to take 'loans' from special interest groups to run. All of these other laws really just interfere with free speech and make it harder for candidates from smaller parties to run.

will the majority care about web 2.0? (1)

yoth (862235) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737463)

i hate to seem this cynical, but how informed are most voters? Are the majority of voters web-savvy? To really be effective, someone will have to take the information out there in web 2.0 and figure out what and how to mass-communicate this information.

Whatever (1)

styryx (952942) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737465)

Who cares about Web 2.0 saving democracy...

I can't wait for the pr0n on web3d!

NB: Web3D is being copyrighted by me, right now, you all saw it!!

Web 2.0 can stop Global Warming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16737497)

How, do you ask? Easy: All the Web 2.0 'evangelists' shut up and stop blowing hot air into the atmosphere.

Bullshit (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737527)

We still have districts, which are arbitrary geographic regions often with little common interests. They're chopped up based on population, nothing more. That's how we have all of these little fiefdoms. The ultimate blow to incumbents would be when like-minded people could vote for any candidate in the state who represents them. When I lived in Virginia's 6th district, we had Congressman Goodlatte, the guy who drafted the gambling ban. The SOB did NOT represent me as a libertarian, conservative Christian or software developer, nor did he in practice represent most of his district. He was so unchallenged due to the fact that voters in his district could only choose him, rather than choose a better Virginia Republican or anyone else. I'd have voted for Wolf, the Republican up here in Northern Virginia over Goodlatte any day if given the chance! So yes, we still have districts, still have usually only two "real choices" and we are to believe that "democracy is being saved." Bah. Few people really want to "save democracy." The changes are too extreme and most people in this country wouldn't understand them. Try getting one of those retards who couldn't handle the Florida ballots with their super-advanced hole punching mechanism to understand that they can now vote for any candidate in the entire state that they like. These are the people who can't understand the proper usage of a hole puncher. A friggin hole puncher! I'm sorry, I forgot. If you want to "save democracy," than add "disenfranchise the 'demagogue bait' voters" to the short list of things that must be done.

what a huge amount of BS. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737741)

typically there is less than 50% turnout on elections of the REGISTERED voters in an area. of that percentage the majority are old people that dont care about what is online or how a blog talks about something.

I.E. it's all you young people's fault the system is as screwed up as it is! if you got your butt to the polls and voted on EVERY election the voter turnout would be higher, the young to incredibly old voter ratio would change and the 90+ year old undead that are maintaining seats in the senate and house would not be there.

Want to make a change and "save democracy? get off your ASS! go vote! pick on and ridicule you co workers that are not voting, call friends and bug them until they vote. Being passive and not getting out there does exactly what they want you to do. be complacent, uncaring and lazy. They want you to let the 45+ be the only voting voice...

Re:what a huge amount of BS. (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 7 years ago | (#16738007)

voting this time around is a waste of time.

voting machines are rigged. we all know that.

I wish it wasn't true, but it surely is.

bring back paper ballots and I'll go spend my time to vote. but as it is now, we're all being duped into THINKING our votes count.

Web 2.0 (hate that buzzword): Why? (1)

foamrotreturns (977576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737749)

Why do so many people hate the idea of having an easy name for the concept of web pages that interact with the user? I don't see anyone else coming up with a better name. Yeah, let's stop calling it "Web 2.0" and move on to the oh-so-efficient "Interactive web pages built on AJAX, JSON, and other technological advancements." Give me a break, people. Unless you have coined a better term, stop whining.

Rename Web 2.0 (1)

saintory (944644) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737791)

How about hyperevents since it really is an event happening outside the normal HTTP request-response cycle? I'll start a grassroots campaign and build a platform on it.

The first step would not be technological (1) (886486) | more than 7 years ago | (#16737971)

The first step in saving democracy would not be implementing new technologies, but getting people to actually vote -- preferably from a basis of knowledge rather than superficial slogans of the political pop industry.

The truth is, democracy could work. It's a good idea. But if voter participation is not first priority, then let's face it; democracy will fail. It's as simple as 0wnage.
At least in the original sense of Demos = (common) people.
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