All you need is a smartphone and an eye for injustice to help protect democracy. Video the Vote is collaborating with Ustream in a nationwide project aiming to get video documentation of any examples of voter suppression and disenfranchisement on Election Day 2012.
Video the Vote formed in 2006 in response to what it calls “massive voter disenfranchisement,” citing voting controversy in Florida (2000) and Ohio (2004). It utilizes a network of some 4,000 citizen journalists across the nation, most of of which are situated where suppression is most likely — battleground states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida and others.
Video the Vote project director Matt Pascarella has been covering voter suppression as an investigative journalist for the BBC and other outlets for more than a decade. Pascarella cites long lines, attempts at voter intimidation and enactment of more than 100 voter regulation laws in 30 states as examples of the types injustice he has seen. He said the 2012 election cycle has been marked by some of the worst suppression he has witnessed.
“Unfortunately when elections are this close we usually see different suppression strategies at play,” Pascarella told Mashable. “All this stuff has been happening, and it’s likely to rear its head even more tomorrow [Election Day], especially in these key hotspot areas.”
This year, Video the Vote is massively expanding its effort. Not only is it teaming with social-broadcasting platform Ustream, which will live-stream from potential points of controversey, Video the Vote is encouraging any and all voters who witness injustice to capture a photo or video with a smartphone and upload it with the hashtag #VideoTheVote.
“People need to be aware when they’re at the polling place if they encounter problems, they have the power to document it,” Pascarella said. “At this point it’s just a normal thing, if you’re out and you witness an injustice, or you’re see something that’s potentially wrong, most people have smartphones and are going to document it anyway.”
The organization’s staff of more than 70 editors and curators will be looking out for content from social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Ustream. The staff will verify and further develop relevant stories before distributing the stories to various news outlets throughout the country.
As an additional tool to raise awareness about the project and get more people involved, Ustream created the following app that helps people easily locate their Facebook friends in battleground states:
Anyone who wants to follow along with this crowd-source journalism effort can monitor it at “VideoTheVote.org“. For more information on the project, check out the following video promo for the Video the Vote campaign; and be sure to share your thoughts and opinions on voter suppression in the comment section below.
Mashable explores the trends changing politics in 2012 and beyond in Politics Transformed: The High Tech Battle for Your Vote, an in-depth look at how digital media is reshaping democracy.
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