“I’m Voting” App Reflects New, Social Political Culture

July 12, 2012

By: Hayley Solarz

voting-app-cnn-facebookWith the help of social media, you can think of 2012 as the Year of the Voter. Ordinary citizens have more and more power in the democratic process thanks to new tools like tweet your congressperson and the recently announced, but not yet launched, I’m Voting feature on Facebook. But social media’s impact extends beyond just your Twitter followers or Facebook friends. At Reset, we believe that new technology has the potential to spur major cultural changes – by making politics more social, by lending people access to tools that help them navigate the political process, and by allowing them to more effectively hold government accountable.

Old Politics, Meet New Tech Culture

Consider this. In the old days of politics, American voting was tightly run by powerful political machines that doled out rewards in exchange for votes. After many hard-fought reforms, citizens were (and still are) protected with bans on bribery and with voting booths shrouded by a curtain. Voting became a private and personal act – and had to be – because holding our opinions anywhere but close to our chests meant risking our political autonomy. A cultural shift followed, where it was considered “improper” to publicly announce your politics, lest a political discussion in mixed company unsettled otherwise polite conversation.

Today, with digital technology and the spread of social media, people are expressing their politics more openly and engaging their friends to participate. Because social media is all about sharing and making connections, these channels are expanding the traditional idea of the “public sphere”.

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(Although the Mad Men-era political reticence has not completely vanished, considering recent Pew polling data showing that one in five on Facebook had lost friends for posting political content.)

How Apps Can Help Make Voting Social

There’s no doubt that the pervasiveness of technology in our lives has cued an entirely new cultural shift. Already there are a number of useful tools helping people engage politically and inform their votes. When it comes to the overlap of political efficacy and social media, big names in the tech industry are continuing to develop ways to make politics more interactive.

A new app developed by Facebook and CNN is one example of this overlap. The “I’m Voting” app allows Facebook members to share their preferred candidates and the issues they are voting for or against this November. The app will then display the vote on their timeline, news feed and on a real-time ticker. The information is also compiled in a state-by-state interactive map, allowing people to see how their views compare with other users’.

These new apps are helping politics become an open part of our lives, and sharing our views is no longer considered taboo.

We will continue to track new developments in tech that get at the heart of what Reset loves -- bringing people together to improve civil discourse and make government more effective. Although the Facebook/CNN app has yet to launch, you can start getting engaged by receiving Reset’s newsletter updates on city government and staying in touch with us on Facebook.

 

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Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137