A political party have a stand in a shopping centre manned by two local members. One greets a mother and her child as they walk by and asks if she would be willing to do a quick survey. Assured that it will take less than two minutes the woman is happy to give feedback to her local politician who happens to be a government minister.
Capturing constituent issues
They talk about recent cuts to school funding, about the state of healthcare for families, and they also talk about how the local community might be improved.
As they are talking the party operative checks boxes on her Go app indicating answers to survey questions. The woman also asks how she can register to vote in the coming election as she has moved house recently. The party operative inputs this as an issue for follow-up by the constituency team.
As a final question, the woman is asked if she would like to be kept up-to-date on the school funding issue as it is addressed by government. She agrees and gives an e-signature consent on the mobile device before she moves on.
The entire interaction took just under two minutes. In another three hours the volunteer’s shift will end and she and her colleague will have canvassed over 100 people at the shopping centre.
This is just one example of the way in which political parties and local constituencies are using technology to capture real information from constituents about the issues that affect their lives. All information taken is automatically synced back to the constituency database - and by extension to the national office. Understanding the big issues across the country allows politicians and parties to see the way the national electorate are thinking at any one time. They are then able to adjust policy and messaging to better represent those views. This is flexible politics that takes account of the electorate.
Staying in touch with voters
A recent survey of Congresspeople in Washington DC and their legislative teams showed a huge disconnect between what the politician's teams understood about their voters and what the voters actually thought about issues. For example, they took a broadly representative group of constituents and asked them how many would support background checks for gun sales. 9 out of 10 agreed with this. Republican congresspeople though estimated support to be just 1 in 10! Using technology like the Go app, this disconnect can become a thing of the past.
A canvassing app that can be used in any location - on the street, in a shopping mall, at a party meeting - has a great value in helping to listen to and understand local voters. It also allows constituents to have their say in directing the people that are supposed to represent them. However, for political parties, the Go app is being used also as a way of meeting supporters and inviting them into the party membership through 1-click onboarding. If someone is being canvassed and they express an interest in becoming more involved with the politician or the party, then they can be onboarded into the team there and then simply by taking their email and getting their e-sig consent to be contacted. This streamlined process is helping to reverse the falling membership figures parties are seeing in nearly every country in recent decades.
An article by Henry Farrell and Bruce Schneier in Law Fare talks about “democracy as an information system”, which perfectly captures the processes around which Go operates. Taking information from voters (with their consent) and actioning that in government or in opposition is the basis of representative democracy and is something that benefits both voters and the party. If democracy is an information system then part of the reason why so many people have lost faith in politics is because the part of the system that feeds information back from voters to politicians hasn't been working or has been under-resourced. That is where new technologies like Go come in.
Politics should be easy, right?
Volunteers love the easy interface with one local operative dubbing it, “tinder for politics” on account of its swipe left if they are not interested in talking, or swipe right if they are. These small elements of gamification are often the difference between a piece of technology being adopted by local memberships teams or not.
When the mother who spoke with the volunteer in the shopping centre receives her update email from the politician that Government have reversed the school funding cuts, she is not only delighted with the result but amazed that her feedback might have played even a small part in that. In the same email she is informed that the constituency team have registered her to vote from her new address so she doesn't have to do that job. Who knows, she might even sign up to volunteer when she has a bit more time in the future.
Download Go here
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Don't forget to tag us in any canvassing activity with the hashtag #GoApp.
Listening to our current users, we are aware that there can be an internal struggle of team management when it comes to organizing quickly. To get people out on doors, the back and forth over Whatsapp, Messenger, and (insert other apps here) can be endless. We aim to streamline this process for you with Ecanvasser. Now organizers can commit via the Walk app (their canvassing app!) and get notified in the run-up to the event so that they don’t forget. By building it into the door knocking process life has gotten a lot easier for campaign managers.