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[liberationtech] EveryVote.org - The Civic Engagement Social Network Platform

Mitch Downey mitch at everyvote.org
Sat Apr 14 07:21:37 PDT 2012


Hi Liberation Tech listserv,

We're huge admirers of the work being done here, and we're excited to share
with you a technology we hope will enable people to take a more active and
informed role in their government or organization. Our project is called
EveryVote, and will be hosted at www.everyvote.org.

EveryVote will be an open-source, non-profit civic engagement social
network platform, and will rely on donations and grant funding to subsist.
Since anyone can add their own government with its own parameters into the
platform, EV can also be used as a civics education tool for students to
run their student councils, or for teachers and parents to run their PTA.
Our goal is to enable all world governments and organizations the
opportunity to use the EV platform.

At the core of EveryVote will be the complete and up-to-date legislative
and electoral body of any governing body. For EveryVote's debut, we will be
drawing off the comprehensive legislation data of the US Congress that is
already available in API format online (available through a site like
www.govtrack.us). Our goal is to keep this tool as intuitive and attractive
to use to as we can, meanwhile providing a number of useful features that
to our knowledge are not offered in existing legislation tracking websites.

We are still in very early stages of development, and if any members of the
LibTech listserv would be interested in volunteering to help create this
platform, we'd love your help. Our primary goal is to present a video
introduction and a PowerPoint presentation of the functionality of the EV
platform at Transparency Camp (www.transparencycamp.org) and its related
Hackathon at George Mason University between April 28-30. We have begun to
actively seek grant funding, and since the vision for EV is pretty vast, we
expect to need to hire full and part-time help in order for EV to be
finished and sustained. For now at least, we have no funding, so we are
only seeking volunteers.

To explain what we find so compelling about the functionality of the
EveryVote platform, we're posting below this correspondence our most recent
draft of a narration that will be used for an introductory animation, which
we plan to have completed by 4/21/2012. If you visit www.everyvote.org, you
can find this narration along with images and visual design documents to
help you picture the functionality.

If you are interested in collaborating on EveryVote in any capacity
(coding, design, legal assistance, outreach, anything), please send an
email to contactus at everyvote.org. Also, let us know if you think EveryVote
could help with your project, as we plan to set it up as a convenient hub
for as many empowering technologies available on the internet as possible.

Thank you for your time and consideration LibTech listserv! Keep up the
great work.

Mitch Downey
mitch at everyvote.org
Northern Illinois University

Vincent Schramer
vincent at everyvote.org
Northern Illinois University

---

You want to get more involved in your government, but where do you begin?
Right now there are over 7,500 bills before the US Congress, and nearly as
many at the state and local levels. How can you stay well-informed and
active in government, and still have time for a life of your own?

With EveryVote.org, your Digital Political Assistant.

EveryVote is a non-profit, open-source, civic engagement social network
platform that helps users find the objective political information most
relevant to them, and offers a variety of tools that make civic engagement
easier than ever. Although it will make its debut containing all the
legislative and electoral data of the US Congress, the EveryVote platform
can be used with any government or organization with a legislative or
electoral process.

To understand how EveryVote can help you get more civically engaged, let's
take a quick tour...

Start at EveryVote by signing up for a profile, and begin browsing the
site. As you scroll through lists of actual bills, elections, officials,
users, and groups or organizations; you can select the bills, individuals,
or groups you support or oppose. You can keep these votes private, or opt
to share them with the EV community. The more you cast, the more EveryVote
can show you how your votes compare to the votes of others.  Using
EveryVote's dynamic databoxes, you can learn at a glance how the officials,
candidates, users, and groups you support or oppose stand on legislation.
After casting some votes, you can see at a glance how the people or groups
you support or oppose are voting on each bill, displayed as a percent
correlation.

If all of the officials you support vote in favor of this bill, a green
+100% displays in the upper-leftmost box. If all of them were in opposition
to this bill, the same box would display a red -100%, and any other
combination would display somewhere in between.

To learn more, you can hover your cursor over the box and see how each
person or group in that category voted; move the cursor over a name to view
that user's explanation for their vote; and click the explanation to begin
a dialogue with that user.

Dynamic databoxes are also found next to the profile pictures of
individuals and groups on the site. These display the % correlation between
your own voting record and the voting record of that person or group. For
example, if you and George voted the same on 8 out of 10 officials, the
uppermost field would display an 80% correlation. If you both voted the
same on only 2 out of 10 officials, that field would display a value of 20%.

Roll your cursor over the box to see a head-to-head comparison of your
votes; slide the cursor over a person or group's name to see their
explanation; and click if you'd like to send a message to that user.

You can also click the total supporters, opposers, and trackers fields
below the picture to display demographic data of those users.

In addition to vote tracking and discussion functionality, EveryVote lets
you submit posts and links into the EV content management system -- similar
to reddit's system -- by sliding out the Track Bar on the left-hand side of
the screen.

By clicking a name in your Track Bar, you will be taken to that bill,
individual, or group's subforum, where you can browse the user submitted
posts and links receiving the most attention from the EV community. Think
more people should see this link? Vote the story up. Think this story is a
waste of time or misinformation? Vote the story down.

What's more, EveryVote even lets you filter the CMS page to count only
votes from supporters, opposers, or undecideds when sorting the stories,
making it easier than ever to hear all sides of the issue.

Although not required for basic site use, EveryVote has advanced social
networking capabilities, allowing you to send messages and friend requests
to other users, post status updates, send out event invitations,
participate in debate threads, administer and participate in polls, and
more.

Plus, EveryVote will be cross-over compatible with the world's largest
social network -- Facebook -- and will have an app version for iOS and
Android mobile devices, allowing you to take EV with you everywhere, up
until the moment you enter the voting booth.

EveryVote will also help you participate in local elections by helping
sending reminders of upcoming voting registration deadlines and election
days to your email or Facebook account. And if you decide to run for office
yourself, declare your intention to run through EveryVote.org, and receive
assistance with every step of the candidate registration process -- from
gathering petition signatures, submitting calls for volunteers, to helping
your supporters make campaign donations right through your EV profile.

Last but not least, EveryVote can be used as a powerful and fun
experiential-learning tool for civics education. Since the platform allows
anyone to add their own governing body with its own custom rules, students
can use EveryVote to manage and participate in their student councils,
helping them propose and vote on legislation, debate ideas, hold elections,
and more. In fact, school PTAs, teachers unions, and any other organization
that wants to can freely make use of these features at EveryVote.org.

With EveryVote, staying civically engaged has never been easier. Visit
www.everyvote.org today :)
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