“In its second-biggest case this term, the court - fresh from hearing the Obama healthcare overhaul case - will consider on Wednesday whether a tough Arizona immigration crackdown strayed too far into the federal government’s powers.” - Reuters, 4/22/12
We’ve written a good amount about the anger and confusion Americans are feeling right now with their representatives, especially those in Congress. The emotional disconnect is fuel for skimmerhat’s initiative — supplying Americans with a tool to help have their voices more accurately represented in Washington. The three main steps to reach this goal include education, action and accountability.
As Americans, we must learn who is running and what their ideology is, take action to get them into office and, finally, hold them accountable once they assume their position as a public servant.
We at skimmerhat are developing a platform to make this systematic and fluid, rather than fragmented and cumbersome.
The first step — education — is an important one in order for the next two to have an impact. So, as we build, we wanted to know where Americans go to learn about candidates running for Congress. And, what that experience is like.
Although we want to solve Americans’ disconnect with our representatives, we must first help with the process of voter education, if there is a problem there in the first place.
Of course, we had our assumptions, but we wanted our own research, along with the research we’ve read, to prove these assumptions. So far, we gathered 150 responses from respondents who are registered to vote, comprise all age groups and almost all of whom do not know about skimmerhat or the platform we are buidling.
Here we asked where respondents currently gather info about Senate/House candidates:
As you see, the majority of people already use Internet sites or blogs to research candidates, while their individual party structure ranks last.
In the “Other” category, two respondents listed the individual website of candidates while another said “Friends and family not affiliated with a party.” And a few more listed specific news channels or radio talk shows.
Then, we asked the respondents how they would classify the information-gathering process:
Time-consuming and confusing clearly outranked any other options. This section is where we received the most interesting answers in the “Other” category, which shed more light into the minds of voters. Here is a sample of the written responses:
- So much bad media, lousy questioning and hard to find the truth. However, it is there if you are informed and know where to look. If NOT informed, and you get news from only one source, you simply are not going to have the information you need.
- Don’t know who to believe.They are so 1 party minded they only print the bad about the other ones.
- The process is challenging because there is not enough information forthcoming and readily available.
- Slanted. It can be difficult to sort out the truth behind the story.
- Sometimes it isn’t clear who is running where until right before voting day.
If those answers, combined with the overall response to the question, don’t make you question the process of gathering information on Congressional candidates, nothing likely will.
When you look at various aspects of our government, it is obvious that citizens need better access, more transparency and more intuitive tools in order to make the decisions that can improve our government. We believe we are building one with skimmerhat that, along with other tools in the Gov 2.0/open government movement, will prove significant in Americans realizing our country’s potential in the years to come.
If you have comments, questions or additions to this post, let us know.