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Social Media & Elections: Using New Media to Manage an Election & Communicate with Voters

On Friday, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission held a roundtable discussion throughout the day on “Voting Goes Viral. Using New Media to Manage an Election and Communicate with Voters“. The archived video of the webcast is available here.

An Introduction

Their premise going into the day?

There are a multitude of social media sources for information about elections and voting. In this rapidly moving, multi-source environment it is more important than ever that there are official resources about voting that the public can rely upon. (source [PDF])

Here’s some interesting statements that are made in the Agenda and Meeting Information [PDF]

There is more information about the event at the bottom of this post

  • The voting public increasingly relies on information that is generated and exchanged amongst themselves, about elections, including the basics of how, where and when to vote. Candidates, parties and voting activists have their own strategic uses of social media. Social media outlets are the platforms in which information about elections is being shared and repeated.
  • Journalists and election officials share a common goal of informing the public about election procedures and election outcomes, and both groups are using social media to inform the public.
  • An important point to make about social media is that it is not a technology; it is a culture. And, yes, it can be scary and unfamiliar to some of us. However, we have to remember our goal – serving voters. They are on Twitter. They use Facebook. And we have a responsibility to go where they are and make sure they have reliable, credible information about exercising their right to vote. Remember, using social media is not about getting a return on your investment; it’s about having conversations with the people you work for. It’s about collaboration, interaction and it is the way business is being done.
  • In an era of dynamic changes in voting technologies, increased voter expectations and reduced budgets, journalists and election officials need to find common ground and explore ways to improve the efficiency and effectives of communicating critical election information to the public. A natural tension between these two groups has been speed versus accuracy regarding unofficial election results.
  • The social media environment is fast-paced, unforgiving and can be cruel. If you enter it, you will make mistakes, big and small. It’s important to develop a strategy, but also be confident enough to experiment. At the end of the day, election officials should always remember that these efforts are being undertaken on behalf of the public. You want to make sure they have accurate information about how to successfully cast a ballot. Get ahead of rumors and take advantage of this built in early warning system. Get unfiltered feedback, which all true leaders want. It may get weird out there, and it is normal to be scared, confused and excited. But you are helping more people and you are accomplishing your mission.


The archived video of the webcast is viewable here.

Here are some Tweeted insights from the @EACgov Twitter account from throughout the day that I put on the original blog post … click here and scroll through them.

More Information About the Event

Their Agenda included the following sessions:

  • Social Media: What Is It?
  • Social Media: Who Uses It?
  • Journalism and Social Media
  • Strategies & Stories from Election Officials

Participants included:

  • Chuck Todd — NBC News political director
  • Lee Rainie — Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project director
  • Chris Chambless—Clay County, Florida, supervisor of elections
  • Alysoun McLaughlin — District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics public affairs manager
  • Brian Newby — Johnson County, Kansas, election commissioner
  • Dana Chisnell — the Usability in Civic Life Project

Also, see techPresident’s post about the event.

A similar version of this was originally posted at the IT company that I work for’s product blog (Disclosure: the product deals w/ transparency, gov’t, & technology and our company works with government in multiple ways to help them with gov 2.0 and related technologies)

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