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Five Ways Technology is Making Democracy Easier

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Thursday, Jun. 7 4:30 PM

Ends: Thursday, Jun. 7 5:45 PM

Room: 551

Much of progressive organizing relies on registering and turning out underrepresented communities and mobilizing those communities against the conservative agenda. New technology aims to eliminate barriers to democratic participation by making it easier for voters to register to vote, find their polling place, obtain an absentee ballot, research candidates, connect with each other and advocate for positions to their elected officials. This panel of leading technologists will speak about the ways technology is making it easier to participate in the democratic process.

Five Ways Technology is Making Democracy Easier

Miss this panel? No problem! Here’s what happened.

Storified by Netroots Nation · Thu, Jun 07 2012 17:56:13

Panelists discussed how to help average citizens.
"We have to be careful about how we introduce technology to people who aren’t technologists, so it doesn’t scare them off" @antheaws #nn12Evan Sutton
"We need to make the experience of democracy better for the citizen." —@Sethflaxman #nn12TurboVote
Google’s @EricHysen notes that it’s still too hard to figure out who your congressperson is. #nn12Paul Schreiber
@cynicusprime @erichysen It’s hard to determine districts for *everyone* since district lines are messy + zip codes aren’t enough.Paul Schreiber
One panelist gave a resource you can use at home.
"One resource is Organizer’s Guide to Election Admin (http://elections.neworganizing.com), election law for all 50 states" @tianaej #nn12 #noi12Evan Sutton
They also noted that we have to focus on how to help people in government.
"One side of democracy is getting people elected. The other side is what they do when they’re there." —@marcidale #nn12Paul Schreiber
How do you improve the quality of messages to congress so they’re heard better? —@antheaws #nn12Paul Schreiber
"We also have to make sure that our technology make the lives of [the people who control the system] easier." —@Sethflaxman #nn12TurboVote
An attendee was especially excited to see a lot of women on a tech panel.
Tech panel with majority female experts. Love what lies ahead for society. #NN12@ @antheaws @tianaej @marcidale http://pic.twitter.com/4UGbjJQTJoey Dobson

Moderator

Anthea Watson Strong

anthea.watsonstrong

Anthea is passionate about real-time data, political organizing and social software. She currently works with the Obama 2012 technology team as the Director of Voter Experience.

Before joining the campaign, she worked at the New Organizing Institute where she managed the Voting Information Project — an effort to collect, standardize and distribute, through an open API, a nationwide database of polling locations and election information. The API received 5 million hits in 2010 and was used by Google, AT&T, Microsoft, Foursquare and Politics-360.

Before getting sucked into political technology, Anthea worked as a lawyer in the House of Representatives and for several years in the field on political and issue campaigns.

When she’s not causing the establishment problems, Anthea likes to swim, wear vintage sunglasses and coax her many houseplants into not dying.

my website


Panelists

Tiana Epps-Johnson

tiana.eppsjohnson

Tiana Epps-Johnson is the Election Administration Director at the New Organizing Institute. She manages the Voting Information Project where she works with state and local election officials to publish official voting information in a standardized format. Tiana also works on the Ballot Information Project, an effort to collaborate across the civic engagement space to create an online, open source, and comprehensive dataset of ballot information tied to political geography. Both projects aim to create the infrastructure needed to build innovative tools that lower the barriers to access of critical voting information. In her free time, she enjoys cooking (usually in accordance with a predetermined theme).

Tiana holds an MSc in Politics and Communication from the London School of Economics and a BA in Political Science from Stanford University.


Seth Flaxman

Seth Flaxman

Seth founded TurboVote while receiving a Master’s in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He previously worked as a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations (where he founded CFR’s annual capture the flag game), a program administrator at the Institute for International Education, and a berktern at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. While earning a BA in economics at Columbia University, Seth served as student body president, leading the council in successfully lobbying Columbia to reform its financial aid policies. In 2011, Seth was honored as one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30″ in the field of law and policy.

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Marci Harris

Marci Harris

Marci Harris began public service work as Tornado Recovery Coordinator for Jackson, Tenn., working with private and public organizations and state, local and federal agencies to rebuild. In 2007, she became Tax, Trade, and Health Counsel to Pete Stark, then-Chairman of the Health Subcommittee of Ways and Means. She left Capitol Hill in 2010 to found POPVOX — an award-winning nonpartisan platform for effective online civic participation. Marci holds a J.D. from the University of Memphis and an LL.M from American University’s Washington College of Law.

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Eric Hysen

Eric Hysen

Eric is the Politics & Elections Program Manager at Google, where he works to improve access to civic information and build political features into Google’s products. He manages products including google.com/elections, the Google Election Center API, and Google’s election results maps. Eric’s team also works to bring these concepts and tools to international elections, most recently leading successful programs in Egypt, France and Senegal. Prior to Google, Eric built online youth engagement platforms at the Harvard Institute of Politics. Eric holds a BA in Computer Science from Harvard College.

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