New Online Election Toolkit Now Available

Posted January 30, 2004 at 2:53pm

Don’t know who Pavel Goberman is?

The answer is just a mouse click or two away.

Goberman’s biography, Web site and other information can be found using Capwiz Election, the election toolkit recently launched by Capitol Advantage. (Goberman is running against Democratic incumbent Ron Wyden for his Senate seat in Oregon.)

The Capwiz Election toolkit features key election information for national, state and local campaigns and is found on hundreds of media Web sites, including AOL, MSN, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. RollCall.com also features the toolkit.

“We want people to understand the issues that are out there,” said Sean Murphy, chief operating officer for Capitol Advantage, during the Election 2004 toolkit launch last Thursday. “[We want to] make this information one click away for every citizen in the United States.”

While there are several Internet toolkits available for voters, Capitol Advantage officials think Capwiz’s thorough coverage of campaigns and widespread Internet access will garner attention.

And although candidate information has always been available, it was only with the rise of the Internet that it has been so easy to access, said Robert Hansan, founder of Capitol Advantage. With this development, the company hopes it can get more Americans involved with the political process.

“This isn’t just about organizing partisans,” Hansan said. “We’re gonna get some more folks” to vote.

To do so, the company has partnered with DemocracyNet, a project created by the League of Women Voters, to gather and organize key election information.

DNet displays policy positions written by the candidates in a grid format available through the toolkit. Nancy Tate, executive director of the League of Women Voters, said the grid gives candidates a place to have a “virtual debate.”

When candidates choose to opt out of giving statements on certain issues, the kit indicates that. Candidates can also respond to testimonials written by other candidates.

Tate said the information provided remains neutral, however, so that readers are not turned off to the election process by negative campaigning.

Besides issue statements, the toolkit provides candidate biographies, information on state ballot issues, polling locations and dates, fundraising and volunteering opportunities, and voter registration forms.

“This is an unparalleled amount of information,” Tate said.

The toolkit also features links to Meet up.com, a Web site that gives voters access to the time, date and location of monthly “meetups” in support of various candidates throughout the country.

Years from now, Hansan said he expects Election 2004 will go down as the year that citizens began to truly use the Internet to form their opinions.

“This is the year of online politics,” he said.