Initial Implementation & Resources

An initial implementation for voting advice can be built on top of Twitter. Local advice can be shared in a town, state-level advice in a state, and so on.

The initial implementation of the system can be built as on top of Twitter feed, as an external “curation” program. It would define the hashtags that anyone can use to give advice, and then store all tweets that contain those hashtags on the server, to make it easy for a voter to see everything of interest regardless of when it was posted.

When a user creates an account, they’ll automatically be following everyone they currently follow on Twitter. After that, when they follow new advisors, they can choose either to follow them normally (which puts everything the advisor posts into their twitter feed), or they can choose to subscribe via the advice-engine.

With the latter method, the user doesn’t see everything that an individual or organization posts, but does see any tweets related to ballot items of interest — so their standard twitter feed remains minimal, but they can still obtain all the advice they need from everyone they want it from.

The system can be built to operate in a single city, to get started. It can then be expanded over time.

The Google Civic Information API can be used to get started:

  • The API can be used to get a list of upcoming ballot items, given an address and or zip code.
  • Using zip codes, it should be possible to get the ballot items for a city or two.
  • The ballot-item identifiers included in the JSON code returned by the APIs can then be converted into hashtags.
  • The system then provides human-readable identifiers an advisor can select from, along with other options like #voteFor. An advisor selects those options to give advice.
  • A voter, meanwhile, puts in an address and zip code. The APIs for the voter return all ballot items of interest. When the user looks for information, everything stored on the server is matched against their subscriber list and their items of interest. Everything that matches both is displayed.

Extending the system:

  • Probably the first useful extension will be to give the user a list of advisors who have advice to give on a specific topic. For each advisor, the user can then choose to:
    1. Subscribe to that advice feed.
    2. Specify “not interested” for that advisor (so the advisor doesn’t show up in future suggestion lists), or
    3. Inspect the advice-tweet in order to make a decision.

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