Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Real-Time, Full-Color Reports of Britons' Voting Woes

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, May 7 2010

Last night's confusing election in the United Kingdom was given an extra dollop of chaos by the fact that some British voters seem to have been turned away from their polling places after hitting the 10pm official deadline, while others weren't able to vote for other reasons. The remarkable thing was how quickly, and how viscerally, people made their troubles known, and in real-time.

Citizen-created video of people's trouble at the polls in places like Sheffield, Manchester, and the student-heavy St. Johns polling station (seen in the video above) went up on YouTube almost instantaneously, and other on-the-ground reports rolled in through things like Twitter and Facebook. Hashtags emerged, with #countmyvote and #votefail seeming to have come out as favorites. Sites like ICouldntVote.com popped up, as well as Facebook groups like "Discrimination against students at St. Johns Ranmoor polling station" -- 3,500 members and counting; reads one comment on the group, "I was deeply disappointed and more than a little aggravated, simply because none of this was in any way my fault." Major news outlets picked up the stories; BBC International, for one, was endlessly playing homemade YouTube clips of British voters' voting troubles all night long. That chain of events, it's worth noting, has driven some of the thinking behind projects like Twitter Vote Report and Ushahidi's various implementations around the world -- that full-color, first-hand documentation of people experiencing troubles engaging in democracy, amplified through all available channels, could, maybe, help propel change towards a saner electoral system.

Below are more videos of people last night experiencing, often with great exasperation, difficulties in getting their votes counted. From Manchester. Note one thwarted voting in the background saying, "This has got to be illegal":

From Ranmoor Station. (Not exactly clear is why the video is titled "Singing Cat." Must be the default.):

And from Hackney, in East London:

Will it do any good in the UK? Unknown, at this point. But the raw materials are there. There's something powerfully compelling about seeing video evidence and real-time personal reports of people frustrated in the course of the simple act of casting a ballot. This could turn out to be a "social media election" after all.

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

GO

tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

GO

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

GO

monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

GO

friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

More