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NYC Debates Hosts Are Crowdsourcing Questions

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, August 12 2013

Sponsors of tonight's official debate between New York City Comptroller Candidates candidates, former Governor Eliot Spitzer and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, are encouraging voters to use Google Moderator to submit and vote on questions for the candidates.

The sponsors, which include Gothamist and WNYC, and hosts Brian Lehrer and Erroll Louis, have been promoting the tool on social media. Lehrer and Louis will be picking the top vote-getters, according to Gothamist.

So far, Google Moderator shows that 30 people have submitted 36 questions and cast 245 votes.

Some of the top questions with 15 votes were submitted by Gothamist and include "Do you support paid sick leave for all NYC businesses?" and "What are the biggest areas of waste and corruption in NYC government, and how would you fix them?."

Some other popular questions, with between 5 and 13 votes, come from a user called dpileofashes and include "As a 20 something enrolled in the tier 4 pension, should I lower my expectations for my retirement payout?" and "What are other sources of revenue the city has not yet pursued you would propose?"

As techPresident reported Friday, candidates and election officials are looking to technology to try and encourage voter turnout and engagement in the face of historically low turnout rates.

Tonights 7 PM debate will not only air on NY1 and WNYC but also stream online on the sponsors' websites.

The hosts are also seeking Google Moderator questions for the August 21 Democratic mayoral debate. So far, 30 people have submitted 31 questions with 262 votes for those candidates.

A top question from a user called Jeff with 10 votes is: "What specific actions will you take to ensure that future residential real estate development creates new housing for middle-income households, not just wealthy ones?" An anonymous user's question asking "New York City has the highest bike theft rates in the nation, yet almost zero investigation or followup on reported incidents. Do you have any plans to address this and other rampant petty crime that continues to harm our quality of living?" has 11 votes.

User Apreche's question "This is New York City, yet our Internet service is slow, expensive, and inaccessible to the poor. Meanwhile, Kansas City has Google Fiber. As mayor, will you fight the monopolies, allowing for more consumer choice, lower prices, and increased speeds?" has 7 votes.

Other questions include "NYC has an opportunity to be a leader as the first significantly large green city. What will you do as mayor to increase recycling (residential and commercial), promote green buildings, and reduce our carbon footprint?," "What do you intend to do about the disparity between rising population and travel between Brooklyn and Queens and the complete lack of useful transportation options? Will the G train continue to be ignored?," and "The Second Avenue Subway & 7 train extension are necessary improvements to our transit infrastructure, but they are both behind schedule and costs are increasing. What will you do as mayor to effectively manage investments in infrastructure?."

The Center for Urban Research at CUNY has also published new online maps showcasing New York City voting patterns and demographics, in partnership with the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the Center for Community and Ethnic Media.