Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Exploring Voting with Selectricity

Among K12 Open Minds Conference keynoter Mako Hill's many projects is Selectricity, online voting software with a few interesting twists:

  • Selectricity allows you to choose (and compare the results from) different mathematical models for determining the winner of the poll or election. Most (or all?) of the systems allow the voter to rank their selections in various ways. Really comprehensive reform of our democratic processes would probably include adoption of different selection methods like these to make minority representation and non major party candidacy work more fairly, so these are important technical issues for our future.
  • It has a nice UI and AJAX-y widgets for making your selections.
  • The code will be released under the forthcoming GNU Affero GPL license, which is designed "to guarantee that everyone could receive the source for web applications that they used, so the software could always be shared and improved." Online voting software is a particularly appropriate case for the Affero GPL, as it gives the user some capacity to audit the software being used (although it certainly doesn't prevent malicious acts by the poll host).

Right now they've just got basic "quickvote" functionality running. Hopefully, they'll be adding more features soon and you'll be able to use Selectricity in civics class and to run your student council elections.

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