Panel Notes from the Local E-Dem Symposium

Here are my notes for the first and second panels at the International Symposium on Local E-democracy.

[MI] = My Impressions

Welcome and Opening Presentation

Worlds first election oriented website in the US was in Minnesota

Jesse Ventura used the Internet in his campaign in 1998.

Thanks are being given to the Corporate sponsors.

[MI] What are corporations doing creating voting systems that aren’t open source and really owned by all people? There was a very logical explination given by corporation president that makes voting systems. Reason: The complexities of law in the US and the need for trust in a secure closed code set that is vetted by academics require that it not be open source. I don’t buy it. This just deflects the burden of trust off of the corporation and onto another non-public body. So we are suposed to trust the academics and programers who work for corporations over ethical amature open source code programers? Sometimes we can trust people who work in corporations sometimes we can’t. Sometimes we can trust people who write open source code sometimes we can’t. Which group is more quickly held accountable for their actions? Who do you trust?


Isobel Harding, Lead Authority, UK Local e-Democracy Project
Northlincsnet, UK
her blog:

examples of her work/collabs:
AOG Radio –

Facilitating communication between theses groups, Communities, Councilors, Councils.

paraphrase: “People who work at high levels are not considered human beings. But with blogs we learn they have families, pets, lives, etc.” I.H

Streamline teaching to the interest of learners. How do we reach young people and get them interested. Games are what kids are interested in. You need to sneak learning in with fun.

PEOPLE’S NETWORK – UK government put “quite a lot of money” into creating public access to the Internet.

Panel One – Informed Voting

John Groh, President, Election Systems & Software Corp.

Multi-Channel Voting :Internet, kiosk, telephone, sms
“Allowing people to vote the way they live their lives.”

[MI] Could multi-channel voting help to bridge the digital divide. Examples were given by participants of seniors in the UK that when they saw a internet kiosk they were amazed and wanted to take it home with them. A crucial first step in computer literacy is to see value in technology in our daily lives.

“How do you get young people voting?”

What is the Help America Vote Act?


Ravi Singh, CEO Election Mall Technologies, Inc.,

Helps canidates get elected using technology

In Portugal the government was essentially forced to create their own blog because the citizens demanded it.

GOTV – Get Out The Vote

“The good ole’ boy network system is almost over.”

“My professor in graduate school used to say politics comes down too two things: money and votes.”

Campaign websites are 365 days a year. Even after a election, win or loose.


Steven Clift

E-Democracy in Korea


Local government should be a leader in e-dem
Opportunity for media and nonprofits to provide online voter guides.

[MI] Here is the Orange County, NC voter chart.

How do we make online voting trusted?
A: TRANSPARENCY, Paper trail, …

Panel 2 – e-gov and democracy

Mary Reid, Councillor, Kingston upon Thames and Board Chair, UK Local E-Democracy National Project

Local governments responsibilities include computer literacy.

“How can we persuaded elected officials that participatory democracy is not a threat to them?” M.R.

Dr. Julia Glidden, Accenture e-democracy Services

Should the private sector be involved in e-democracy?

“Not sure that e-dem is viable business.”

A strong pitch was made about the equality that can be created by having a diverse number of ways to vote and participate in government.

[MI] Is this presentation a PR job to fix bad reputation that e-voting has gotten through scandals in the US? After speaking with Dr. Glidden later I noticed her sincere desire to about equality in e-democracy. It was just surprising to see someone from the corporate world talk about the importance of people before profit. It’s great to see someone put the phrase “It’s about people not products.” into actual practice.

Lessons Learned
* Partnership not Profit
* Passion not Process
*People not Products

[MI] Q: If there is “No discernible business model” in e-democracy then why are there so many businesses represented here today? Do partnerships lead to money?

Rona Zevin, Director, Office of Electronic Communications, City of Seattle

Live Video Streaming

Indexing of Video is very important. Text information must be linked to discussion occurring on video to create valuable context.

Right now they are marking time-code on video of specific events during video.

Anna Tan, Director for Home and Community Franchise of DirectGov and Programme Director of Local DirectGov

ENCORE, community e-publish CMS (open source)

enable local communities to debate and raise local issues

Q: Do you have any laws or regulations that are encouraging local government to participate in the online communities you are creating?

A: [Anan Tan] No. We’re working with them using various strategies like getting web masters involved.


Methods to increase the use of E-democracy tools by local government
* Help elected officials believe it’s there idea
* Feedback from constituents. Citizens and citizen groups
* Education

$490 Million English Pounds invested in e-democracy by the UK national government

One thought on “Panel Notes from the Local E-Dem Symposium”

  1. Thanks for sharing these notes Brian. I’m happy to see Rona Zevin’s comments about the importance of indexing video. A couple of years ago I worked on a program to insert time-stamps on streamed video and the technology simply wasn’t yet ready. I haven’t stayed current but still look forward to the time when video becomes more intertwined with text.

    I am disappointed that so much of the e-democracy discussion was about voting. To me, e-democracy will have more visibility when it becomes the way we do local government business. So instead of expecting anyone who wants to address the Town Council to go the town hall, let’s figure out how we adapt rules and practices to support petitions through email or IRC or some other digital technology. Let’s figure out how to make it easy for regular citizens to get involved in their town governments so that the larger state and federal issues make more sense to them.

    Hope you’re enjoying the cool weather up there!

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