Just before the 2004 election, Jamais Cascio wrote about the "Participatory Panopticon at the Polls," where ordinary citizens with digital cameras and phones prepared to monitor polling places and capture any irregularities, uploading them to sites like the now defunct "Video Vote Vigil," described by Jamais as "clearinghouses of citizen documentation of voting problems." It was a good idea, though nothing much was revealed in the 2004 videos. (A political consultant I know noted that, if someone's manipulating an election, they do their work before election day, and much of it is procedural wrangling that's perfectly visible if you look for it.)
"Video the Vote" is a new, nonpartisan site, set up to monitor the 2006 elections. Like 2004's Video Vote Vigil, this site calls for electronic documentation of polling problems by ordinary citizens with digital cameras and camera phones. The site's related to the film American Blackout, which "chronicles the recurring patterns of voter disenfranchisement from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 while following the story of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney." There's another related site called "End the Blackout" for coordinating viewings of the film, which was produced as a project of the Guerilla News Network. Whether the site will pick up actual irregularities remains to be seen, but the presence of citizens with cameras might also work as a deterrent.
Veek the Vote 2006 (www.veekthevote.com) is a project that enables people to use the cameras in their mobile phones to express themselves and document Election Day in near real-time.
Veek The Vote represents something wholly new in the history of election coverage. Anyone with a mobile phone equipped with a camera-—there are over 70 million of them in the U.S.--can send a photo or video to email@example.com. No registration is required. No special software is needed.
Fifteen to sixty seconds after a photo or video is sent, it will appear in a embedded player at veekthevote.com. This player, in turn, can be taken by anyone and embedded anywhere on the web: on blogs, MySpace pages, etc. Veek the Vote generates a completely open mobile video communication network, enabling complete democratization of election coverage. We take in video from anyone, and allow anyone to display it on their website.
We're very excited about the prospects for Veek the Vote. It empowers Americans to be more than a statistic captured by exit polls on Election Day. Whether they're taking to the streets in protest, waiting patiently (or impatiently) in line at the polls, or stuck behind a desk, Veek the Vote 2006 lets America show and see Election Day in a way never before possible.
Any help that you all might be able to give in helping us get this story out would be very much appreciated. The more people that know about Veek the Vote, the more powerful it will be.
There are actually a few ways that people can get involved this year to help cover the election. Here are a few.
Knowing the crowd at World Changing -- I think the Polling Place Photo Project is something you would be interested in.
Don't just video the poll happenings. If you vote at a public polling place, video your ballot. ie, make a video record of your vote.
I voted absentee, and photocopied my ballot before sealing the envelope.
A friend of mine recommended "paper trail parties" where people would bring together several home office copiers, and public notaries donating their time.
The National Campaign for Fair Elections has a toll-free number for reporting any problems with voting.