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The Election Protection Wiki: A Dynamic Website Helps Safeguard America's Right to Vote

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The Election Protection Wiki: A Dynamic Website Helps Safeguard America’s Right to Vote

The non-profit, non-partisan Center for Media and Democracy has launched a unique website to help safeguard the fairness and integrity of US elections, using the power of citizen journalism. The Election Protection Wiki is now online at http://www.EPWiki.org . It enables citizens, journalists and government officials to actively monitor the electoral process in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. CMD and its community of volunteer editors will continue to improve, expand and update the EP Wiki beyond the upcoming November 4th election.

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The EP Wiki is part of CMD’s award-winning SourceWatch website and operates on wiki software which allows anyone who registers on the website to participate in creating and updating articles. SourceWatch contains in-depth articles on every member of (and most candidates for) the US Congress at http://www.Congresspedia.org. CMD employs both professional and volunteer editors who work together online to ensure articles are fair, accurate and fully documented.

Recent presidential elections were marred by controversies and disputes. Scores of individuals and organizations have been working to investigate and reform US elections, issuing reports and information on topics such as electronic voting machines, voter suppression campaigns and student voting rights. However, this information is spread across many different websites, news sources and databases. The Election Protection Wiki seeks to provide a single web portal for accessing this disparate information. Its information is non-partisan and factual; anyone of any political persuasion will be able to both read from and write to the wiki to help us all protect every American’s right to vote.

“We’re not on the side of any candidate or political party, we're on the side of the American voter. But we’re happy if anyone, partisan or not, uses the Election Protection Wiki,” said Managing Editor Conor Kenny. “For example, the Voter Suppression Wiki is already utilizing information in our Election Protection Wiki; even if they decide to move in a partisan direction, any reports posted by their participants are also available to Republican-leaning or non-partisan activists as well. Journalists, bloggers, activists, election officials and anyone with web access can use the Election Protection Wiki to both read current articles and create new information regarding election problems."

The Election Protection Wiki’s professional staff members include Project Editor Dave Johnson, a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute and Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Renewal of the California Dream; and Senior Researcher Dr. Steve Freeman of the Center for Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania. CMD’s Conor Kenny is the Managing Editor of both the Election Protection Wiki and Congresspedia, CMD’s partnership project with the Sunlight Foundation that reports on every member of Congress.

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The Center for Media and Democracy is based in Madison, Wisconsin, and located online at http://www.prwatch.org. 

Here’s a personal statement from me to encourage people to enter material


I had long been thinking about doing such a project. Now we are most fortunate that Sourcewatch has taken it up. Wikis are critical and increasingly powerful tools for facilitating collective action. They facilitate collaboration and communication to enhance knowledge building, sharing and searching. Among the features and benefits:

• Knowledge from outside sources easily included through document upload, email integration and RSS content feeds
• Simple “alert” systems (RSS, favorites, dashboard and email integration) are available to monitor all content changes
• Advanced document and content development facilitated through open, simple editing access that encourages participation by many parties
• Versioning control and comparison is built-in
• Easy self-publishing by contributors obviates administrative bottlenecks
• Extremely low cost by fully harnessing its volunteer base

Wikipedia has become one of the most-read websites on the planet, but it is vulnerable to manipulation though the use of anonymous edits and a need for a "neutral point of view," even when some points of view are disingenuous. SourceWatch, which EPWiki is hosted on, instead has a standard of "fair, accurate and fully sourced," which both better lets the truth come through, but also insists that every piece of information have an external, verifiable source. There's no need to "take our word for it."

Wikipedia is also a general encyclopedia, where each article is supposed to be a good encapsulation of the topic to a general reader. In contrast, SourceWatch is a guide for people as citizens, consumers and human beings. Its articles are meant to inform and assist action, not to simply bone up on a subject. The EPWiki will help voters, bloggers and the press find critical information that would otherwise be lost in the noise of the Internet.

I am a senior researcher on this project and I invite and encourage you to join us in this project by helping gather and enter information. Begin with whatever work or projects you're presently engaged in or go to http://EPWiki.org and look for the "things you can do."
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Steven Freeman is a professor at University of Pennsylvania and the co-author of Was The 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? with Joel Bleifuss.

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