Participation rates in the recent primaries and caucuses are way up. Ten times the number turned out in Nevada yesterday than in the previous presidential election! A number of new tools that help people visualize and therefore make sense of the issues may be helping to spark Interest in the candidates and their positions.
Here are a few examples of the kinds of visual tools we see emerging to use the computer interface more effectively to help us understand who the candidates are. In another post, I'll talk about visual tools that help us see ourselves as part of a community of supporters and inquire as to whether this makes us give more, join sooner and be active in ways we wouldn't have done before the ability to imagine ourselves as part of the collective.
Minnesota Public Radio developed a quiz to help people identify which candidate is most closely aligned with their views. Other media outlets have copied the quiz to disseminate the tool to local viewers.
Connect2Elect has users select and order keywords or tags that represent the most important views they want their ideal candidate to have. The website provides a "visualizer" that shows the user's views at the center and the candidates arrayed around her (like pins on a map). The site will also provide a rank-ordered list of candidates based on preferences entered.
Smartvote asks a series of questions about issues and priorities and then also displays a Kiviat diagram or visual map of the candidates in upcoming Swiss races. The site operates in the four Swiss national languages: German, French, Italian and Rumantsch.
ChoiceRanker is designed to be a polling tool to enable "collaborative expression of converging and diverging opinion." The site presents candidates in random order and asks users to cast their ballot for first, second, third etc choice. Using these ranked preferences, the interactive ballot demonstrates instant run-off voting. This is not an issue-ranking tool like the others but enables users to understand something about the depth of popularity and likely viability of a candidate.