Votetipper.com -- A long Intro... It's really cool...

Votetipper.com -- A long Intro... It's really cool...

Votetipper.com is an app to let voters better understand issues and candidates

Hello Cambridge,

I’m proud to announce the birth of Votetipper.com, on the 24th of October 2013 I launched the site.

Votetipper.com happened because I felt there was no way to really understand where candidates, running for public offices, stood on issues. Political campaigns are run with leaflets, banal slogans and one liners which don’t tell us anything about where the candidate stands on an issue. Votetipper.com is here to help.

The mission is to offer a site where you, the voter, can explore the issues, vote on them and see where candidate stands on said issue.
Every user has also the ability to create an issue, explain it and let the candidates vote and explain their vote on said issue.. so cool...

The initial days have been quite a roller coaster. Lets start with the good. The site has had quite a bit of traffic, we’re running at about 150 visits a day as of Monday. Google analytics went down yesterday so not sure what kind of traffic we had.
Lots of people have been very excited about the project and I have received tons of positive feedback, thank you. Actually let me be more accurate, I have only received positive feedback from cantabridgians, again thank you.

As things started gaining momentum I realized how cool this app is. It actually introduced me to candidates I knew only by name. When I started to vote, I was surprise to find out where candidates stood compare to me. I also discovered issues I didn’t know about. I hope a lot of the users on the site find the same thing. I think the best comment was a friend of mine, he was trying it out, his reaction, laughter... he was having fun educating himself... and that’s awesome.

Now on the candidates side, I can’t say the reactions were as good. I didn’t care too much until last night. When suddenly, four candidates got all crazy on me...
Now before I dive in let me be clear on 3 important points:

  1. Votetipper.com is like any website, people have accounts, and complete control over their account and the information pertaining to said account. Candidate can login into their account vote, make changes to their candidacy information and any stance initially entered based on their reply to publicly available questionnaires. Or that they themselves have entered.
  2. To initially have relevant issues I looked around for questionnaires candidates might have answered. Not being as familiar with the issues on the school committee I abstained from entering any questions. A few people who signed up in the early stages, entered the issues and are still doing so, exactly what I had hoped for, kudos and thanks so much. Here is the link to the questionnaires I used:

  3. Since I’ve been part of the group of cantabridgians lobbying for a good use of the Foundry building I used this as a base issue while testing during development of the app. And you know what in my hurry I forgot to update the stand of certain candidates, my bad. Definitely not a crime... or maybe it is and I didn’t know it. Anyhow the error was rectified as soon as I was made aware of it.

Now last night I got emails, which I have to say were not written in the most amicable tone. I’m still very torn and am not sure of the ethics here, so I’ll withhold their names for now. But the gist of it was as follow:

Votetipper.com is too late

to quote one of the email I got:

“...As I mentioned to you directly, my campaign unfortunately does not have the time in the few remaining days before the election to be able to respond to the questions you pose...”

And I got another saying to launch the site 1 week prior to election was undemocratic.

“...Any candidate who does not respond then must live with your characterization of their views whether those are accurate or not.  Inaccurate information can lead to gross distortions in the minds of the voters, which is anti-democratic...”

Again I’m not quoting which candidates as I’m not sure it makes any sense, I just wanna make sure you, the reader, understand what i’m answering to. I’ve also been asked to remove their name from the website. Unfortunately they are running for public office. None of the information on Votetipper.com could be construed as private... I’ve just went on the web and compiled already public information. We’re in a country where free speech is our most valuable possession, I really would like to understand why candidate feel they have the right to ask their name be withdrawn from the public domain. Do they go on google and ask google to withdraw their name from public search? Has Robert Winter signed a contract to post their information? We are in a democracy right... or am I missing something. And to close this part of my argument, hello Fox news, hello MSNBC... hello Free Press, hello opnion pieces, you are undemocratic.
Damn I still can’t really get over that one... if you ask me, it’s pretty pathetic argument.

It’s too late. Really...? Really...? too late to show where you stand on issues? Too late for voter to make up their mind on who they gone vote for? YOU heard me some candidates feel it’s too late for you, the voter, to get informed. Oh, here they come...
Again let me quote the complain:

“I do not know where you are getting your information which is, with regards to my campaign, incorrect for certain issues posted on your website, Furthermore, it seems that you are also listing other candidates in varying degrees of support or non-support for certain issues, which does not accurately reflect their current position on said issues.”

I’ve emailed all the candidates everyday since the launch of Votetipper.com. I have told them where their stances and related explanation were obtained, see above. I have done my best to answer promptly any legitimate concerns they might have. They have full control over their account. Each candidate can login to the site and update their position.
But, they don’t have the time, it’s too late. Really, you don’t have the time to update the issues but you have the time to complain about ‘misrepresentation’. Instead of spending hours trying to get me to pull down Votetipper.com, which is what you want me to do, go and take a stance. Most of us work extremely hard, sometime 2 jobs for very little and have to take care of our families... let me remember when I last said, I don’t have the time...
You are running for public office, your decision will affect all of our lives. You are going to make ~$75,000/year plus benefits... But you don’t have the time to tell us where you stand... REALLY... When was the last job interview at which you told your potential employer, I don’t have the time... Should we vote for candidates who would rather bicker about whether or not they should take a stance or for those who actually do take a stance? I wonder.

Hopefully Votetipper.com can help you answer that question. Explore the issues, use all the resources available both on Votetipper.com and everywhere else, especially here on CCTVcambrige.org. Don’t let you self be fooled by flyers, one liners and quick stock answers devoid of substance. Don’t be fooled by empty gestures and empty weekly words. Know the issues, take a stance and vote accordingly.

Good luck and long live Votetipper.com