How much would your voting choice be swayed by your friends views? Votizen, a startup in California, thinks that your friends can have a big impact on your vote. Their aim is to disrupt the money-driven, negative ad campaigning, US electoral system and reinvent democracy. By no means a small goal.
Votizen’s idea is fairly straightforward: use your existing social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) to ask your friends/connections to commit to voting for a particular candidate. Getting the vote out on election day, especially in tight contests, is the difference between winning and losing. The smart part is that Votizen links to publically available US electoral information to show which of your contacts are registered voters in influential voting districts and even which of them has voted in previous elections. That allows an individual to target their efforts towards their contacts who are most likely to make a difference.
Can something like this work in the UK? With voter turnouts in the past three General Elections well below the post-1945 average (Local Elections [pdf] and European Elections are even worse) voter alienation from politics is a big issue.
UK politics is very different from the US. We don’t have all the negative attack ads or the robo-dialling telephone calls. Even though we don’t have the same levels of funding that the US has, concerns certainly still exist (pdf).
Yet, even though people are willing to disclose a great deal about themselves on-line, are we really willing to declare our political views? I get the feeling that despite the huge impact that political decisions have on our lives, we’re not really willing to talk about them.
For me, it’s time that we change this and fix democracy from the bottom up. Votizen for the UK anyone?