Meet Your Next MP: Crowd Sourcing Engagement in the General Election

HUSTINGS2015

People around the UK are working to use technology and Open Data to improve citizens’ connections to the democratic process during the upcoming General Election.

The official list of who is standing is only published just before the election, which if you’re trying to research or contact candidates isn’t much use. Over at Democracy Club, they are trying to crowd source an list of candidates and make it available to all athttps://yournextmp.com/ – they already have more than 3,000 listed!

I’m working with them on https://meetyournextmp.com/ – a crowd sourced site around hustings and events where people can question their candidates.

This provides a place for people organising independent events to post a message and connect with others in their local area wanting to do the same. Then once they’ve been organised, it provides a place for events to be listed. It’s easy to add an event using the web interface, and easy to browse events near you. Others can take the event listings we generate and use them elsewhere, and we encourage that.

Other interesting projects include http://electionleaflets.org/ – this asks you to photograph and upload any leaflets you get. The resulting archive can be used to hold politicians to account afterwards.

And after the election ends, groups like mySociety (who created TheyWorkForYou, WriteToThem and more) are working with others like them around the world to form the international association Poplus with the aim of making it easier to take a successful democratic project from one country to another. http://poplus.org/

Of course, people’s involvement in democratic affairs is more than simply ticking a box every few years – but making the General Election more approachable for people is a great start. If the Scottish referendum and it’s 85% voter turnout proved one thing, it’s that people will get involved if they see politics as interesting and important. Let’s try and help them!

James Baster

james@democracyclub.org.uk

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