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Vote on the Web: Transparency and Civic Engagement in Brazilian Politics

André Blas (WebCitizen)
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WebCitizen is an innovative Brazilian company that aims to foster civic engagement and bring citizens closer to each other, and to their governments. Through the analysis of present and future virtual arenas, the organization and optimization of information design and the sharing of knowledge via online tools, we create bridges between the virtual and the physical world, and help governmental and non-governmental institutions understand the real needs of their citizens and consumers.

On November of 2009, WebCitizen released the beta version of Vote na web (Vote on the web), a collaborative site where any citizen may register online, see what bills are being passed by the Brazilian National Congress, and vote for or against these bills. For each proposed bill there is a short description, who proposed it, when, and whether it has been approved or rejected in Congress.

Besides understanding what their politicians are working on, registered users can further exercise their voices by creating a dialogue with other fellow citizens about those pertinent issues that directly affect their lives.

The site is also a very useful tool to get to know the Brazilian legislators better, as it lists their mandates, party activities and afilliations, and which bills they have proposed or voted. We can then analyze each politician’s voting history, something that can help citizens decide who they should vote for in the next elections. Those who think closer to how we do can better represent us politically.

7,000 votes have already been given by more than 10,000 people, in less than two months. There have already been three hundreds comments, in addition to 100 emails with suggestions on how to improve the site. In general, the site exudes a desire to rescue the idea of citizenship. And its success only proves that transparency, openness, clarity and democracy are the ways to engage the public into a healthy and meaningful civic dialogue.

Photo of André Blas

André Blas

WebCitizen

André Blas is an anthropologist and documentarian, whose experience stems from his work in both main-stream media conglomerates (AOL Time Warner), non-profit cultural organizations such as the Getty and Freewaves, and in the public sphere.

Blas is currently working with WebCitizen, an innovative Brazilian company that aims to foster civic engagement and bring citizens closer to each other, and to their governments, working towards their goal of a more transparent and open society.

Blas is a board member of Freewaves, which produces the the largest biennial media arts festival in the US.

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