WinnipegElection.ca Prepares for Voter Engagement – October 14, 2014
The Open Democracy Manitoba (ODM) team is at it again for the 2014 Winnipeg Civic Election. This group of four friends operates WinnipegElection.ca and ManitobaElection.ca, election resources where voters can read up on and compare candidates while appreciating a better understanding of the electoral process.
The WinnipegElection.ca website was a popular resource during the 2010 election with over 45 thousand voters checking in with the site. “We’re hoping to get more people learning about their candidates this election”, says co-founder Jody Gillis. “I’m hearing that a lot of people don’t vote because they don’t know much about their candidates or what they’re voting for. I’m hoping this is something we can help them with.”
ODM’s successful model hasn’t only been recognized by voters. The group was thrilled to accept a twenty-five thousand dollar grant from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s Community Investment Program. The Canadian Internet Registration Authority manages the .CA top-level domain, Canada’s online identifier, on behalf of all Canadians. A Member-driven organization, CIRA also facilitates the development of a better Internet for all Canadians, and represents the .CA registry internationally.
With this grant money, ODM is building a general purpose election toolkit for future civic and provincial elections. This project will be open-sourced with the intention of allowing other citizen groups throughout Canada and the rest of the world to make their own election portal websites. ODM has already inspired and helped citizen’s groups in Kingston, Ontario and Nanaimo, BC to build their own municipal election portals.
“Open Democracy and Open Government movements are spreading across Canada”, says co-founder Kyle Geske. “On August 11th we hosted Richard Pietro on his cross-Canada Open Government Motorcycle Tour. The room was full of engaged citizens eager to learn about open government, to learn of the transparency and citizen engagement that releasing government data can bring.”
“We were happy with the turnout, which included a number of city journalists and election candidates including three mayoral candidates: Brian Bowman, Robert-Falcon Oullette and Judy Wasylycia-Leis” says Geske.
Open Government is a political philosophy which holds that the data, documents and proceedings of government belong to the people being governed, in order to further the goals of transparency and accountability. In recent months transparency and accountability have been subjects of significant importance at City Hall. A more ‘open government’ isn’t just about public oversight, but is something that gives the citizens and the press the power to better understand and take part in public affairs.
With only days until the election, the site is buzzing. Winnipeggers will go to the polls to vote for Mayor, City Council and School Trustees, on Wednesday, October 22, 2014. The information available on WinnipegElection.ca, which includes questionnaire responses from over 121 candidates, will help citizens make an informed choice at the voting box.
WinnipegElection.ca Returns for 2011 By-Election – November 23, 2011
WinnipegElection.ca is back. The citizen-built election resource was updated earlier this month in preparation for this Saturday’s by-election. The site, originally built by Open Democracy Manitoba for the 2010 Winnipeg general election, continues to empower and educate local voters about the roles, issues, and visions of our representatives.
The WinnipegElection.ca website features interactive ward maps, ward statistics and historical information about past elections, along with profiles of the current council and school trustee candidates. Twenty-one of the twenty-five candidates running in the November 26th by-election have replied to the WinnipegElection.ca platform questionnaire. Candidate questionnaire responses are featured on the site, along with links to their web pages, email addresses, and social media accounts.
Civic by-elections are typically plagued by low voter turn-out. In response to this challenge, the members of Open Democracy Manitoba are running a social-media campaign on Twitter and Facebook, spreading information about this by-election in hopes of increasing voter turnout.
Candidates and Voters Embrace Winnipeg Election Website – October 18, 2010
WinnipegElection.ca is pleased to announce its continued success in providing the citizens of Winnipeg with a useful resource for making informed decisions about the October 2010 civic election. Traffic on the website is at an all time high and the response to their all candidate questionnaire is exceeding
“We’re excited to see such engagement by candidates” says Jody Gillis, one of the founders of the site. “Over sixty-four candidates have replied to our questionnaire and this number is growing daily.”
With 150,000+ page views and 15,000+ unique visitors, the locally developed website is growing rapidly by accumulating accurate and up-to-date information about the upcoming election. “These stats tell us that voters are eager to research their candidates online.” says co-founder Kyle Geske. “With only nine days until the election, we’re expecting an acceleration of activity.”
Citizen Created Election Website Attracts Attention – September 23, 2010
Frustrated by the lack of information about their local candidates during the 2006 Winnipeg civic election, city residents and cousins Kyle Geske and Jody Gillis decided to build an online election resource for their fellow citizens. Geske and Gillis, instructors at Red River College, spent a large part of their spare time during the past two months working on a website for the upcoming Winnipeg civic election. Their work has paid off. Their WinnipegElection.ca website has become a recognized source of information for this October’s election.
“We are concerned about voter apathy,” says Geske when asked about site goals. “We believe that open and accessible information fosters interest. The strength of our government depends on informed voters.”
The site features interactive ward maps, ward statistics, historical information about past elections, and a calendar of election related events. Candidates are listed along with links to their web pages, email addresses, Facebook fan pages and Twitter feeds. News articles that mention candidates are also linked providing up to date information from a variety of media sources.
As the site grows in popularity, it’s not just citizens who are taking notice. “We have city council and mayoral hopefuls contacting us to provide their photos and social media links,” says Gillis. “Engaging citizens online evens the playing field for all candidates.”
Now that nominations have been finalized, Geske is working on adding a school trustee section to the site. Meanwhile, Gillis is preparing a candidate questionnaire.