SALT LAKE CITY -- The future of grassroots campaigning may become a little easier with a new web service introduced Wednesday.
Unveiled at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco Wednesday, the Silicon Valley based company Votizen introduced the "Virtual Precinct Walk," a modern day door-to-door campaigning approach by using social networking websites to connect voters.
Previously, grassroots efforts involved a politician's supporters going door-to-door canvassing neighborhoods to encourage citizens to vote in an upcoming election. But with the amount of individuals now utilizing social networks like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, taking a candidate's grassroots efforts online seems to be the most logical step.
Votizen's new web program allows online volunteers to use social networking sites to spread the word about their chosen candidate using the several social connections available to them. Votizen said the messages are intended to rally support and to commit citizens to vote in an upcoming election. The program would also allow users to track whether supporters actually voted.
Those interested in joining the online service are asked to declare a candidate they intend to endorse, with Votizen verifying the user as a registered voter. If the voter intends to help a candidate's campaigning efforts, Votizen assigns them as a "precinct captain" and searches the users Facebook and Twitter account for names to petition.
Friends are then asked a simple question: Will you pledge to vote for (specific candidate)? Individuals interested in joining the online effort have the option to petition their friends as well, thus creating a web of quasi- door- to-door grassroots efforts, reaching millions in quicker and more efficient way.
Votizen said the service will also allow users to update their voting record, learn about the different candidates and issues, and write letters to their representatives. The company hopes to have the system ready for local, state and national campaigns by the end of the year, which could play a prominent role in the upcoming presidential race.
Social networking played a major role in the 2008 presidential campaigns, with President Barack Obama leading the way, attracting a massive following of online support. But as the technology continues to spread to other campaigns, what role social networks will play is still uncertain. It is quite possible that Votizen's new program may be the deciding factor in the way candidates utilize grassroots efforts in the future.
Votizen said it hopes to release an update to the program in the near future, with SMS messages as its main means of contact.