Twitter style #hashtags are the girders that allow voting advice to travel down the information highway. They identify ballot choices, allowing advice that is needed to find its destination, while other advice flows right on by, unintrusive and invisible.The #hashtags need to be unique, so they do not conflict with each other, and they need to be divided into namespaces, so they are easy to construct without fear of conflict with other hashtags.
The system needs two kinds of hashtags: Ballot Identifier hashtags, and Advice hashtags.
The advice hashtags are the simplest. They can look like: #voteYes, #voteNo, #voteFOR, or #voteAGAINST. And they can identify a specific choice, like #voteForMeasureA, or #voteForBernieSanders.
The components of ballot identifier hashtags might look something like this, where each component is separated by an underscore, for readability:
- Date (year, month, and day of election)
- 3-character country code – so the system can be used internationally
- 2-character state (province) code
multi-character stock ticker code (for advice on a board of directors vote)
- Region code (ex: SCC for Santa Clara County)
Zip code (for choices specific to a given locale)
- Office Identifier (for a candidate race)
ex: STSN for state senator, USSN for)
Measure Identifier (for ballot measures. Ex: M.A for Measure A, in California)
- Candidate identifier (for a candidate race)
Sample hashtags might then look like this:
Of course, the hash tags would be internal. The interfaces used to select them would unpack the names, displaying something like this for the first example:
- California United States Senator, Diane Feinstein
Since every state has it’s own terminology for regions (e.g. “parishes” in Louisiana) and for ballot measures, the terminology will differ from state to state, and from region to region.
The trick is to centralize hash tag allocation for each state — so all tags beginning with #2017_11_16_USA_LA_… are for Louisiana, and are defined by someone there. The expanded version of the shortcodes used in the hashtags then needs to be stored (e.g. PA=”Parish Alderman”, or “Parish Administrator” (or whatever) so the interfaces that display choices say the right things.
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