Voters Lack Easy To Use, Empowering Information

Note: Article first published as Where’s The Data Behind Our Political Decision Making? on Blogcritics.

Over the last 100 years of political campaigns, party power struggles, prosperity and recession, has the data we have to make decisions with improved?

Prompted by John Palmer’s infographic (below), One Hundred Years of Government and Economy, and heading to the polls to vote, I was in awe at how hard it is to get a full summary of who is on your ballot and where they each stand on the issues. It reminds me of talking to people, back in 2002, who were trying to sort out which TV or DVD Recorder to buy. No one could make head’s or tails of it, the information was hard to compare and you had to do a lot of searching or just trust the sales guy.

Open larger size for zoom in.

 

Can I get an app for that?
With all the cheap data processing power, web start-ups, mobile apps, and business focus on ROI, I found very few places to get a non-partisan picture of candidates across multiple issues.

Even when I did find information for the Governor and U.S. Congress candidates in my area, I found some candidates had incomplete or no data. And, getting information at the state or local level was even more difficult to obtain.

There has got to be a better way to compare all candidates on issues based on where they stand and data based on their record. A lot of others are looking for the data and looking to empower citizens but who has made it easy to help citizens make meaningful choices from big government to their local elected officials.

The best site I found, that was non-partisan, was www.votesmart.org. However, most were either poorly designed, lacking even more information, or were partisan.

We can do better. I believe we need a Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 joint challenge to design both a better tool and to rethink the election process so that all candidate information and data is available well before voting.

Organizations are spending money in this space, but putting it to work to capture this great public benefit should be a key component to Gov 2.0. Groups like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, NIC, Microsoft, and Palantir need to fix the basics first and empower voters with meaningful data.