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First POST: Grandma Knows How You Voted

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, January 11 2013

Friday must-reads

  • Personal Democracy Plus exclusive: The New Organizing Institute's new executive director, Obama for America alumni Ethan Roeder, tells Sarah Lai Stirland that the Democratic Party still doesn't have enough data-driven campaigners. That's where NOI comes in — an organization with an increasing number of connections throughout the party on a mission to train a new generation of candidates and campaign operatives.

  • ICYMI: For ProPublica, Lois Beckett explores the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's sophisticated, grandma-driven data operation. Grandma-driven, yes, that's right:

    Much of the data the Grandma Brigade collects is prosaic: records of campaign donations or voters who have recently died. But a few volunteers see free information everywhere. They browse the listings of names on Tea Party websites. They might add a record of what was said around the family Thanksgiving table — Uncle Mitch voted for Bachmann, cousin Alice supports gay marriage.

    One data volunteer even joked about holding "rat out your neighbor parties," where friends would be encouraged to add notes about the political views of other people on their block.

  • Iowa Democrat Brad Anderson, who ran the Obama campaign's 2012 Iowa effort, has announced plans to run for secretary of state. Criticizing voter ID proposals pushed for by the current Republican incumbent, Anderson said an electronic verification system to check in voters made more sense, the Des Moines Register reported. He praised The Precinct Atlas Program developed by Republican Ken Kline, the auditor in auditor in Cerro Gordo County. "It’s essentially a digital poll book that replaces the binders of papers. The database flags convicted felons, people who have already requested a ballot by absentee, and those who are at the wrong precinct. And it doesn’t disenfranchise a single voter," he said.

  • Software engineer Luigi Montanez writes about the rise of the activist engineer:

    The prospects for more activist engineers are bolstered by a failed promise of Silicon Valley. A long-time refrain has been that VC-backed Silicon Valley startups can indeed change the world. But the current crop of consumer web and mobile startups don’t live up to that ideal. SnapChat and Facebook Poke aren’t changing the world, they’re enabling people to be even more self-centered and insular. Airbnb and Uber, two terrific services that are profoundly disrupting their markets, don’t make that dent in the universe Steve Jobs once spoke of.

  • In officially nominating Jack Lew as treasury secretary, Obama said, "I had never noticed Jack’s signature. When this was highlighted yesterday in the press I considered rescinding my offer to appoint him. Jack assures me that he will work to make at least one letter legible in order not to debase our currency should he be confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury." Yahoo News offered a Jack Lew Signature Generator. The NYC Public Schools Twitter feed posted yesterday, "Congrats to Jack Lew (Forest Hills HS '72) on his nomination as Secretary of the Treasury. We're proud of all of our students' penmanship!"

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Beyond @Congressedits, Capitol Hill Looks for Entry to Wikipedia

As he recently told techPresident, the creator of Congressedits did not aim to make Members of Congress look bad, but said he hoped that they would recognize the importance of Wikipedia as a public space and engage more with its community. "If staffers and politicians identified as Wikipedians, that would be super. You could imagine politicians' home pages with a list of their recent edits, that they would be proud of the things that they are doing." On Capitol Hill, there is in fact interest in making that vision a reality, starting off with an initial conversation that could create a framework for more Wikipedians in Congress. GO

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In the Philippines, Citizens Go Undercover With Bantay to Monitor Public Offices

The Philippines, a country of almost 100 million, is considered among the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia, despite a boost in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in the past few years (from 134th in 2010 to 94th in 2013 out of 175.) Corruption involves all levels of government, but benefits also from a mindset of tolerance, says Happy Feraren, the co-founder of Bantay.ph, an anti-corruption educational initiative that teaches citizens how to monitor the quality of government services, sometimes by going undercover. GO

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