The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University unveiled MyFairElection.com, a new crowd sourced election monitoring platform that allows voters across the United States to rate the quality of their voting experience during Election Day on November 6, 2012. Created by Archon Fung, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center along with other concerned citizens, MyFairElection aims to give citizens a greater voice in the voting process.
On election day, voters will be able to enter the address of their polling place and find out in advance about wait times, comment about their experience, report problems, and upload photos. MyFairElection will also supply voters with the location of their polling place, voter identification requirements, and other election-day information such as current average wait times. Both real-time during Election Day and afterwards, the application will aggregate voter-provided data into heat maps and other data-rich displays to identify and display the quality of electoral access across the country. The site will allow voters to identify and locate problems as they emerge in real time, compare and rank states and localities according to the quality of access to the vote they provide, and share the experience of exercising their right and ability to vote.
By giving completely open access to an anonymized data set after the election, the platform will provide free election monitoring data to government agencies, journalists, voter protection groups, and citizens to drive further improvements to the electoral process. Providing open access is significant now that we are in the era of voter suppression across much of the United States. The polling place data may also be a key lifeline for communities facing damage from superstorm Sandy, as voting is expected to be significantly difficult in many of the highest population cities and states in the country.
MyFairElection is part of the Ash Center’s broader research focus on the character, causes, and consequences of participatory governance practices throughout the world. Through its wiki-based Participedia website, the Center is generating a library of examples and methods of participatory governance, public deliberation, and collaborative public action. The Center also spearheads research through its Transparency Policy Project,which assesses the sustainability and effectiveness of government-mandated systems designed to provide the public with critical information to improve public health and safety, reduce risks to investors, minimize corruption, and improve public services.
“We hope that the results MyFairElection collects will democratize the assessment of our nation’s electoral institutions in their role administering the most fundamental right of modern democracies,” said Archon Fung, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center. “By being open to participation by all voters—be their poll experience positive or negative—the participation level and resulting data set could far exceed more tightly controlled efforts that rely on physically present poll monitors or voting problem hotlines.”
You can also watch a video put together by Fung about the platform and how it works:
Have you voted early? What are your expectations for election day?