Archive - November 5, 2008

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Twitter Vote Report Wrap-Up

Twitter Vote Report Wrap-Up

Wow, what a ride!  Dozens of volunteers contributing untold hours of their expertise and passion to bring an idea to life in less than a month.  We had nearly 300 news stories filed about the project the past week alone, many, many blog posts about it and thousands of tweeters using the system on Election Day.

The day wasn’t without its problems as the system went down for about a half an hour in the morning and the afternoon.  That was to be expected as we were building it at the same time we were rolling it out! The tech folks, particularly Deanna Zandt, Dave Troy and Andrew Turner were magnificent, calmer than I would have been and resilient throughout the day.

We’re still compiling the final statistics, so here are my impressions of the highlights of the day.

Just as importantly as serving as a vehicle for reporting problems, Twitter Vote Report was a wonderful way for citzens to celebrate voting.  There was a steady stream of tweets throughout the day of people celebrating their votes, like this one: “MeanRachel: #votereport #6th and Lamar – people laughing waiting for cross walk eating free ben and jerrys. Is this what hope looks like? Yes.”

Twitters informed one another:  “LisaS: line shorter now-stl 17th ward pct 5 voters, come on down! #votereport  less than a minute ago in Saint Louis, MO, USA  via Twitter 8:15 am”

And, of course, they reported problems, mainly long waits:  “geosteph: retweet neighbors who voted this morning said there was a long line at 6:10 AM …50 minutes before polls opened in MD #votereport”

Several messages were quite memorable both for the shocking disregard of voting rules, even common sense, by election officials, and the sincere desire of individual voters to try to make a difference by sending a message about it.

A St. Louis voter tweeted in the morning, during the course of what were five hour waits in some parts of St. Louis, this message, “In STL, poll workers shortstaffed, coming outside and asking random
people if anyone can help!  Poll workers require training. #votereport”  This bizarre request for untrained poll workers was included in an NPR roundup of Election Day troubles.

A woman sent in this audio file from her iphone (very cool!) reporting that she had been charged $20 to vote in Indiana.  I thought the poll tax was long gone, but apparently not.

It’s hard to express how appreciative I am of all of the people who invested themselves in this project; the tech folks, in particular, immersed themselves in building an extraordinary suite of tools that can be used for future campaigns and events, like natural disasters, when communications infrastructure between citizens becomes critically important.  We’re just at the beginning of what will be an ongoing, interesting evolution in the ways that mobile technology can be used to engage and connect citizens and I am very thankful that the Twitter Vote Report project could make an important contribution in that journey.

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