Let the sunshine in with transparentdemocracy.org
U.S. citizens need as much information as they can get to make the best decisions about their political system and the companies they invest in, believes Kim Cranston. The son of late California Democratic Senator Alan Cranston is using the Internet to do that.
Americans are more likely to face tough issues head on, such as climate change, if they have more information, Cranston says. For that reason, he, Jeff Manning, and some Stanford students have started a website to put an easy voting guide on the Web. The idea behind the website, transparentdemocracy.org, is to give people guideposts.
“A user can see how people they trust are voting and why — Republican or Democrat, Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, anything that is in there,” Cranston said. People can add their comments, too.
The site, still in the testing stage, lists 153 ballot propositions from 35 states in the last election, everything from gay rights to tax proposals.
Cranston and the students also list shareholder proposals for companies such as ExxonMobil, with the views of outside groups. Those issues cover everything from moving company headquarters to executive compensation.
“The shareholders are the owners, so this helps shareholders make informed decisions about corporate policy,” he said.
Cranston believes the website may improve turnout by encouraging people to send e-mails to their friends.
He cites work by Donald Green, a political scientist at Yale who specializes in voter turnout. A small pilot study by Green showed that voter turnout increased 5 to 10 percent when one friend e-mailed another with recommendations. Green found that was a departure from mass e-mailings, which had little effect.