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Transparency Optional? Try Poderopedia

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, February 21 2014

Transparency is important (Seth Thomas Rasmussen/Flickr)

In many parts of the world, political transparency is still considered to be optional. Take Panama, for example, where political candidates are not required to declare assets, sources of funding or potential conflicts of interest. This puts the onus of discovery and exposure on the public. However, before Panama voters head to the polls in May they can check a Poderopedia-powered platform chock full of vital information crowdsourced (and verified) by journalists and citizens. The project is called “Cuida Tu Voto” (“Watch Your Vote”) and launched in Panama City earlier this week.

Poderopedia is a platform we've written about on techPresident before. Miguel Paz helped develop it in Chile while working as a Knight International Journalism Fellow. Last year they launched an open source version of the platform in the hopes that journalists in other countries would pick it up.

Paz wrote in a post at IJNet that the site for Panama, Candidatos Panamá Ruta 2014 is “Poderopedia's most ambitious project yet.”

It uses a new Wordpress-based platform called Data Mapper.

In addition to creating a resource for voters, the project will also include citizen outreach and engagement efforts:

A local television network TVN Channel 2 will have a site called “Yo Informo” (“I inform”), which will allow citizens to report incidents during the election process, ask questions to candidates, and monitor whether campaign promises have been met by politicians while in office.

Citizens will also be able to vote for the questions to candidates they most care about (a ranking system) so the news team can find answers to the citizens' questions and verify incidents. Election observers will be using the platform to report incidents and make sure the elections are transparent.

Workshops will teach citizens and youth to use digital tools to monitor the election process and be more active participants.

The Investigative Reporting Initiative in the Americas, the transnational journalism nonprofit Connectas, and Panama's La Prensa newspaper also partnered on the “Watch Your Vote” project, with support from the United States Embassy in Panama.

Update 2/24/14: This post has been updated to include the name of the blog on which this story first appeared.

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