Dan Morgan‘s comments on my “How do you measure the value of Gov 2.0?” post offer an insightful perspective I feel they warrant a post of their own.
Creating sustainable, meaningful civic contributions to government is something I’ve addressed before, and it’s something that continues to elude us in the form of civic applications and hackathons, despite the overwhelming attention given to each.
Since 2008, there has been a wave of voting law changes that impose barriers to the ballot box. Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a veteran of “Bloody Sunday,” called the new laws “the most concerted effort to restrict the right to vote since before the Voting Rights Act.”
The right to vote is being chiseled away by voter ID laws that require voters to show government-issued photo ID in order to vote.
In December, the Department of Justice blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law on the grounds it would make it harder for minorities to vote in violation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Mississippi and Texas voting ID laws also must be pre-cleared but Texas is not waiting. The Lone Star State filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to speed up a decision.
Strict photo ID requirements will be in place in at least five states – Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Tennessee and Wisconsin — In November. With Election Day less than nine months away, voters without an official photo ID cannot wait for the challenges to play out at the Justice Department and in the courts.
In Wisconsin, for instance, voters must navigate “The 4 Proofs.”
I am a founding member of the Election Protection Coalition. Still, looking at the infographic makes my head hurt. More worrisome, it discourages voters from completing the application process. So I presented the problem of TMI (read: disenfranchisement by design) at Random Hacks of Kindness and the Hackathon for Social Good. Citizen programmers developed solutions to quickly provide voters with information on how to get a voter ID.
Users in Wisconsin can forget about “The 4 Proofs.” Instead, in four clicks or less, they will be able to access information about the state’s voter ID requirements, how to obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate (the document that’s typically produced to establish one’s identity), and the location, hours and directions to the Office of Vital Records using public transit.
I also gave a live demo of the Cost of Freedom text-based app developed by Jack Aboutboul, Twilio’s API Evangelist. Twilio is making an in-contribution of text message services to promote voter education.
To commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we plan to launch the Cost of Freedom App on April 4, 2012.
I will post regular updates about the Cost of Freedom Project and other initiatives that are using civic innovation to protect the right to vote. The conversation about voter ID also gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about disruptive technologies in the public sector beyond election administration.
We’ve heard a lot about Drupal and WordPress in government, but not much about the open source platform Joomla. We asked Joomla External Communications Lead Sandra Ordonez to share how government is using it, its key features, how it compares to Drupal and WordPress and what governments are using it.
Oakland, Ca. is the latest major U.S. city to launch a 311 application that allows citizens to report issues directly to government from their smartphones.
Mark Headd has an interesting thought on how to encourage better participation at civic hackathons, suggesting perhaps a registration fee would encourage more reliable participation.
Honolulu launched a new 311 application, Honolulu 311, now available on iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry. The service was developed by CitySourced.
As I mentioned in my 2012 civic commitment post, I’m focused on helping drastically lower the cost, de-mystify the technology and build better websites for local government.