Think New Orleans » Outsourcing Democracy

Aug 5, 2006 by

In the Golden age of MC Bush and the Neocons abridgement of Democracy is standard policy. Unfortunately that seems to have communicated itself to the New Orleans level as Alan points out in his post on Outsourcing democracy.

Think New Orleans / Outsourcing Democracy

The citizens of New Orleans have been asked to choose the planners that will guide them through the process of developing a city wide plan for rebuilding. The method to record the response of the neighborhoods is an online poll. The online poll is open to fraud.

* Suffrage is determined by the possession of an email address.
** For many residents an email address is very difficult to obtain.
** For anyone with knowledge of email, infinite unique addresses can be generated instantly.
* An email address does not define a resident of New Orleans.
** Anyone can vote without any indication of residency in New Orleans, let alone a specific neighborhood or planning district within New Orleans.
** Anyone on the Internet can vote, even people living in other countries.

It is a childish implementation of a poll, easily gamed, impossible to verify.

This voting is being conducted under the contract of an architectural firm, Concordia, LLC. It presents and obvious conflict of interest.

(Emphasis mine-Loki) Read the rest here! Now obviously I am a silicon geek, I’m a blogger after all, but even so the idea of using a purely internet based system for something like this would not have been practical even before the Storm. New Orleans has famously eschewed internet and email in favor of the more face to face approach that is a hallmark of our Euopean/Afro-Carribean culture.

The reason I actively support ThinkNOLA is because it is one of the only technology based efforts that actaully recognizes this, yet conitunes to use the digital arsenal available for positive change. This poll is not only blissfully unaware of this divide, but has all the relaibility of a Diebold voting machine!

Please read Alan’s full post. If it outrages you as much as it did me then take action. Call them on the bullshit, its vital.

EDIT: This in from New Orleans Indy Media

It’s unclear just how much the various planning firms that are selected in this process will truly incorporate the needs and desires of the residents represented. But the biggest problem of all with the process thus far is its lack of true democratic participation. With almost half of the city’s population still missing, with renters, public housing residents, and residents of the worst hit neighborhoods distracted by more mundane concerns like returning home, securing employment, a roof over their heads, or cleaning up property that Mayor Nagin will otherwise deem blighted within a month, it would appear that most resident of the Big Easy simply don’t have the resources to participate. Full Article Here.

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