Hacking for democracy

Once upon a time, hacking was considered a bad thing. Today, there’s something called a hackathon. Also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest, it’s a legitimate, constructive event where computer programmers and others in the field of software development collaborate intensively on software projects.

The next big hackathon is on Sept.15, 2012. It’s called Hacks for Democracy, and its purpose is to bring together software developers, civic hackers, election officials, journalists, data analysts and designers to create tools and projects that promote openness in the way government relates with citizens. Hack for Democracy focuses on  apps to improve this fall’s election, while building tools that improve citizen engagement and create apps that will get registered voters to go to the voting booth in November.  The hackathon also hopes to develop apps that might help mitigate the impact of voter ID laws and come up with data that would make local city council and board of elections more transparent.

If you don’t think any of this is possible, think again. A good example of a helpful tool developed at a previous hackathon is Ad Hawk. Adopted as a project in 2011 at a meetup called “Random Hacks of Kindness,” Ad Hawk is now fully operational and is helping voters understand who is paying for their democracy by identifying the influence behind election ads.

More information about Hacks for Democracy here.