Speaking Voters Language
The results, of course, remain to be seenElection Day is still more than a month away. But already, Slocum says the county has changed how it works to register voters. Instead of sending a letter and hoping for the best, its organized house parties and other places where people who speak the same language talk to their friends and neighbors about everything from requesting a ballot in the native language to figuring out how to fill out a ballot. Coincidentally, a few doors down from the San Mateo County Courthouse, Dean campaign veteran Zack Rosen is hard at work on the other side of the fence, writing and developing software for, among others, political campaigns and civic organizations. Among them is Ira Ruskin,a former city councilman and mayor of Redwood City. Rosen runs CivicSpace Labs, a nonprofit foundation. CivicSpace makes it easy for a groupwith a lot of group activity going in different directionsto get online, stay online and coordinate online. The software is open source, so users can come and grab what they need from the CivicSpace site for free. The idea, of course, is to give candidates and organizations a low-cost tool to do what they need to do on the Web."Theres nothing else like this out there," says Rosen, who is hosting a users and developers conference this weekend to hear from hard-core programmers about what needs to be changed, as well as from users such as Ruskin (if hes got the time) about what they need from an online campaigning site. It promises to be an interesting couple of days, Rosen says. "We have people champing at the bit."eWEEK.com Technology and Politics columnist Chris Nolan spent years chronicling the excesses of the dot-com era with incisive analysis leavened with a dash of humor. Before that, she covered politics and technology in D.C. You can read her musings on politics and technology every day in her Politics from Left to Right Weblog. Check out eWEEK.coms Government Center at http://government.eweek.com for the latest news and analysis of technologys impact on government practices and regulations, as well as coverage of the government IT sector.