Getting Out The Vote

The "net native" generation can be and should be an important political force. These young people grew up with the Internet and they understand how to leverage it in all aspects of their lives. And they understand the importance of protecting the Internet and the concept of Internet Freedom.

But we have to make sure they are registered to vote and that they do indeed go out and vote. That's where The Internet Votes comes in. Over the next week, the folks at Fight For The Future and Personal Democracy Media will be rolling out a series of tools that encourage everyone, but particularly the net natives, to register to vote and then in turn to get out and vote. This effort is non-partisan. There is nothing in this campaign that has anything to do with who you should vote for and why. It's all about voter activation.

The first of these tools, a voter registration widget, is available now (in beta). I am running it on the right sidebar of AVC, under the ad unit. You can get it for your blog here. Please feel free to use it as much as possible so the folks can fix the bugs and get it ready for prime time next week.

As more of these tools launch, I will blog about them, use them, and encourage all of you to do the same. Those who understand the power of the open internet, use it in their lives, and value it as a positive force for society must vote and make their voices heard if they want our elected officials to value these principles as well.


Comments (Archived):

  1. gregorylent

    voting is simply a pacifier for the public to give them the illusion that they have “choice” while business as usual continues on.the exception? local elections.

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      I don’t agree with the ‘pacifier’ and ‘choice’ in the statement. Yes businesses has to continue as usual…world will not stop spinning … .but voting decides how the businesses are to be continued.Voting is the choice of making the ‘how’.

      1. markslater

        ha! – keep drinkin that coolaid.

    2. kidmercury


    3. markslater

      absolutely correct – the system is broken.DONT VOTE.

  2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    It is an irony that even the ‘educated’ has to be educated on what is the value of a single-vote.



  3. Cam MacRae

    I’m legally obligated to attend a polling place for all elections be they local, state or federal. Failure to do so usually results in a fine, but can result in a stint in the big house (a mostly symbolic sentence in return for a mostly symbolic failure to pay the fine). To facilitate attendance, the electoral commission picks a sensible day to conduct the poll: Saturday. (I hope you’re taking notes for your next constitutional convention).But… it occurs to me that if voting wasn’t compulsory and I didn’t feel the urge for the obligatory $2.50 fundraising hotdog while in line, or just couldn’t be bothered making a choice between the vicious and corrupt centre on one hand, and the equally vicious and corrupt centre on the other, I’d still turn up to vote.Millions of people are currently engaged in the serious business of getting themselves killed to attain the very privilege our citizenship confers upon us automatically.Do the right thing, gang.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      In Spain we are not obligated to vote but we are all pre-registered. We are encouraged to check our data with the electoral authority to avoid problems when trying to vote, but we don’t have to. This systems brings participations around 65-70%.However, in a system like the American, if you don’t bother to register I doubt you are going to make the effort to inform yourself about what is being voted. And if you don’t do that I’m not that sure you should vote. I know that is a risky assertion as it can lead to voting restrictions. I do believe in one person one vote. But I also believe in earning your rights, so I’m not certain about what system works best.

      1. Cam MacRae

        I have to register (enrol) too. Compulsorily.Every time an election result runs contrary to my desires I curse those silly, uninformed voters. Sounds fair, no?

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          That’s why I say my assertion is risky, it’s easy to call stupid the voter with different ideas. I don’t know how a system that made compulsory getting some information would work. But I do know that the system is broken in most democratic countries. Debt, pensions or other long term problems are usually left unattended because people don’t understand/care about them.

      2. Elia Freedman

        The state of Oregon routinely is at 65%+ participation. We don’t offer polling places. Instead we only vote by mail. It is an amazing system that is a thousand times better than going to the polls.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          That’s a great number! we also have vote by mail, but it is set in a very inconvenient way and only it’s worth only if you know you can’t go to the polling station a few weeks before the election.

          1. Elia Freedman

            That’s how most of this country works, too, for vote by mail.

          2. kidmercury

            vote via mail is not so bad if you plan in advance. i still prefer it to the polls because i get to be extra careful when doing it from my home.

          3. Elia Freedman

            In Oregon, there are drop boxes at post offices and libraries, plus on some city blocks in Portland. You don’t even have to plan in advance around here! We can be as lazy as everyone else in the country, just lazy in our own homes instead of standing in the rain (irony alert) and snow like everyone else. πŸ™‚

        2. Cam MacRae

          Nice. Our local elections are postal — works great.

      3. Evan

        Any country that forces me to vote is not a country I want to live in. Viva liberty!

        1. raycote

          I’m not so sure that the freedom to be democratically irresponsible should be considered sacrosanct ?

          1. Evan

            I hope you’re joking. Your comment is equivalent to “the freedom to irresponsible speech shouldn’t be sacrosanct.”

          2. LE

            Let people do as they wish. It’s not as if there is any great science behind who someone chooses and why. It’s bad enough as it is w/o requiring people who don’t want to vote to cast a vote and get involved if they don’t wish to.

        2. kidmercury

          agreed. laws are a means of force, and to have meaning, must be backed up by the threat of violence (i.e. armed police). a peaceful society does not encourage laws but rather celebrates choice.

    2. Ruth BT

      With you all the way on this one Cam. I am in love with compulsory voting. If you want things to change, make your voice heard.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Yes. Even if there is no realistic prospect of change your vote counts towards electoral funding, legitimising a minor party etc.

        1. awaldstein

          Token actions don’t drive results IMO.Actions do though.One person then another then another recycling changes the world.One vote after another is not token but an act that in aggregation can change everything.So I optimistically believe.

          1. Cam MacRae


    3. jason wright

      The mantra of ‘voter apathy’ is used to explain low turnout in democratic systems where voting is not compulsory. I don’t agree.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Neither do I.

        1. jason wright

          Does compulsory hide a latent want to express dissatisfaction?

          1. Cam MacRae

            Not necessarily. There are ways to register your disgust, for example, casting an informal (incorrect) vote.We use preferential voting in all houses, and proportional representation in the upper house, so it is possible to elect a fringe senator with as little as 3% of the primary vote. Nothing screams dissatisfaction like electing a crazy(s), particularly if they hold the balance of power (as has been the case for the last 2 years).

          2. jason wright

            I see crazies as political entrepreneurs. They’ve researched the political market and seen an opportunity to exploit its dynamic. I’m not so sure they’re as crazy as they market themselves to be.I also think some established political parties indulge in the tactic of covert multibranding by deliberately sending out ‘disaffected rebels’ to fight under independent banners with ‘far out’ agendas simply to occupy that voting space to deny genuine independents a chance of attracting sufficient votes to get elected. Rebels always seem to find their way back home in the end. Funny that.

          3. kidmercury

            no, but it results in the apathetic selling their vote.

    4. Matt A. Myers

      Young people don’t trust politicians. They don’t tell us enough, they don’t teach us, they think we’re stupid. It takes time to gain support of anyone, to trust that you are what you say you are. Politicians are terrible at telling us what they will be doing and how it will help us individually, and as a society.

      1. Wavelengths

        You are assuming politicians actually have intelligence, have studied the issues, have sufficient integrity to say what they mean and mean what they say, and that they have the integrity to want you, the voter, to know what they stand for.Alas. Unfortunately it seems the biggest egos with the biggest bucks behind them (read those with vested interests in pulling the strings on the candidate) are the ones who run for office.It’s up to us individually to educate ourselves about the candidates. And we must look behind their words to see their actions, and their actions over time, to get a read on character. Good character is sadly lacking in so many of those in public office. Just look at the series of nasty scandals …

        1. Matt A. Myers

          True, that is an assumption – though it’s my belief and hope that more people, citizens, will run as politicians.I agree it is up to us to educate ourselves, though that is still relatively difficult to do, to cut through the noise, etc. and understand what things actually mean and how they will impact us.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        And when they do speak candidly — as when Mitt Romney told donors at a fundraiser that he can’t expect to win the votes of most of those who don’t pay federal income taxes — they get excoriated for it.We can’t have it both ways. We can’t demand that politicians speak candidly and then attack them for it when they do.

    5. jason wright

      Another thought on compulsory. When it is compulsory we know all taxpayers are voting. That can lead on to the view that taxes should be used to fund or part fund political parties, and that naturally means funding the full spectrum of political ideas and policies to be fair. I think that’s why many countries do not have compulsory voting. Their political establishments have taken control of the political market over time and public funding would crucially weaken their dominant position.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Yes. And yes.

  4. AlexBangash

    Thank you so much for sharing. With authentic net identities, it would be great to have a “one click set up” to register and vote.

  5. jason wright

    “And they understand the importance of protecting the Internet and the concept of Internet Freedom”They do?

    1. fredwilson

      i think so. certainly when you discuss it with them.

      1. kidmercury

        lets see who they vote for, and let’s see what that candidate does for the internet.

  6. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    Hate that this is my first comment in ages (been slacking on my AVC reading since I gave up RSS), but it’s “principles” you want here, not “principal.”

    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      I keep up with AVC through Engagio – either they get me with daily mail (which is terrific) or I see the conversations on my dashboard since many of the people I follow are AVC community members

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        You’re right, I should do that!

        1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

          Cool and since we conversed I now will be able to follow you on Engagio πŸ™‚

        2. William Mougayar

          I just re-activated your account. you should start receiving that email tomorrow and hopefully it will lead you to some discovery and via the dashboard too.

          1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

            Thanks. At some point I went on a jihad against all the things that ended up in my inbox…

          2. William Mougayar

            Tu peux changer ca dans la page settings notifications.

    2. kidmercury

      come back to RSS. i too once turned to the dark side of a world without feeds, randomly scouring, hopelessly searching for meaning on the vast and chaotic web. finally, i relented and embraced RSS. at last, i found the structure and security i was looking for. it set me free.

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        I have structure and chaos together. It’s Twitter.

        1. fredwilson

          and tumblr. you are the best tumblr poster i know

          1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

            That’s a great compliment, especially from you.But Tumblr I just do for fun. Twitter is fun, but it’s also a business networking tool, a content discovery tool, a social networking tool… It’s everything I want from the internet.

        2. William Mougayar

          Structure and chaos! i love it. Everything thrives under that basis.

          1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

            Kid’s words, not mine. Perfectly captures what makes Twitter so great to me.

          2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            i have heard the term ‘organized chaos’!! whatever works for you πŸ™‚

      2. William Mougayar

        What? you still use RSS???? are you a sado-masochist? Google is closing the Feedburner API in October and that is probably the last nail in the RSS coffin…

        1. Dale Allyn

          RSS is good technology, but is has not always been well implemented. I use it and love it, both on the supply side and consumption side.

        2. kidmercury

          i love RSS, i don’t need feedburner and after seeing how twitter treats RSS (trying to hide it) i’d rather see feedburner go away too. i prefer google reader WAY more than the twitter web client — and of course, not everyone how drops an RSS feed i want to monitor is on twitter. RSS ftw!

      3. matthughes

        It sounds like you discovered a spiritual self-help guide.

        1. kidmercury

          lol definitely!

    3. ShanaC

      welcome back Pascal!

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        <3Love this place. I’ve been too lazy.

    4. fredwilson

      thanks!i will fix thati get that one wrong frequently. its my dyslexia coming out. i fight that fight every day.

  7. kidmercury

    this has potential to be a very feel-goody type of discussion so i would like to rain on the parade with the fairly obvious retorts.does anyone think romney or obama are going to change anything or protect the itnernet? i know the dumbocrats just want their rock star while, even more comically, the rethuglicans are actually naive and ignorant enough to think romney is going to cut spending and restore civil liberties. the only difference is which group they are going to tax more aggressively.until the people possess sufficient political will to be informed citizens, voting means nothing. and of course let us not forget the issue of voter fraud, alive and well in all 50 states, enabled greatly by diebold machines. as stalin said: “it’s not who votes that counts but who counts the votes.”9/11 was an inside job,kid mercury

    1. kidmercury

      btw there is only one candidate that will be on the ballot in 47+ states not named romney or obama. gary johnson. as obama already has this election all locked up, a vote for romney is a wasted vote too. might as well waste your vote on someone who is actually pro-Internet.

      1. pointsnfigures

        but a vote for him, is like voting for obama.

        1. kidmercury

          i don’t really see it that way. i see johnson as a true libertarian candidate. yes, a vote for johnson would likely have gone to romney if johnson didn’t exist, but that is only because people believe that romney is a limited government, libertarian-esque candidate who has any meaningful differences from obama. i don’t believe that to be true. i view the race as johnson vs obama/romney, not obama vs romney – johnson effect.

          1. Evan

            Romney sounded pretty libertarian with the 47%.

          2. fredwilson

            speaking of libertarians, i am going to hang with David Koch this evening

          3. Dan

            Man, I would love a chance to talk with him. Coming from Madison you’d be hard pressed to find a man who has been more vilified (in conjunction with Walker) over the last year.From a medical geek perspective, could you ask him about his preferred future of care delivery? He’s such a benefactor to hospitals/research and opposed to ACA – I’m always interested in hearing how folks would like to see our health system pan out. I’m sure he has some strong opinions.Have fun!

          4. kidmercury

            i question koch’s libertarian street cred, as he is supporting romney. here is a good article dissing koch:

          5. pointsnfigures

            Baby Steps. There isn’t going to be a sea change like a communist revolution. Baby Steps. First, get small government minded people in there. Then change the government to be more libertarian.

      2. brian trautschold

        kid – this is the head on most important problem mentioned IMO- it is not that people don’t want to vote for a ron paul or a gary johnson-esque candidate… but they feel that the vote (their only way of voicing their political opinion) will be wasted, and thus they make the economic decision of choosing the least ‘unfavorable’ option.I’ve only had the honor of voting twice, but both times myself and many peers were faced with that same quagmire.

        1. ShanaC

          should we switch to a proportional democracy ala european ones then?

      3. fredwilson

        i might just do that. i agree this thing is over unless we get some sort of exogenous shock to the system.

        1. kidmercury

          alright! that would be great. you know how tipping point stuff works……once those early adopters get on board that big crowd rushes in. we can make a difference quickly once we have enough early adopters take the lead. i def plan to vote for johnson!

    2. markslater

      the system is fraudulent and broken. Dont endorse it by voting. The system of government is absolutely bought and paid for. Down with the republic (not republican) form of government – technology has arrived that makes this obsolete.Fred- you of all people as a VC should be looking to “disrupt” this system.

      1. fredwilson

        trying to. but we also still are operating with the current system. i think you can do both at the same time.

    3. LE

      It’s a lesser of evils type of thing.

      1. kidmercury

        yes i understand that is the perception, although i don’t believe it to be true. if obama has an Evil Score of approximately 100, i believe romney also has an Evil Score of approximately 100.

  8. BillMcNeely

    So cynical we Americans have become who have paid so little for the privilege to say so much in the governing of our affairs.

    1. Tom Labus

      We do have an easy ride in comparison.

      1. BillMcNeely

        I just ask people to vote whatever your political leaning is. Please do not checkout of the process.

    2. Dale Allyn

      You’re right, Bill. Thank you for your service.

      1. BillMcNeely

        I encourage everyone to vote regardless of political leanings. I saw your site and I liked what you did with all the links to the blogs you follow. I was trying to do a complicated publishing of an aggregate of 40+ blogs. Instead I will follow your lead at StartupGuruTV

        1. Dale Allyn

          Bill, if I can be of any help, let me know.

  9. panterosa,

    I’m notoriously quiet when politics comes up, especially here. But I’m very vocal about voting. I believe everyone should vote so we truly know our country’s will, and that includes new voters especially. Rock the vote Fred.

    1. Dale Allyn

      I agree, but I would like to encourage people to make an effort to understand that for which they are voting. It’s said that the young are “internet native” yet do they use that very same internet to study the issues and candidates? Do they endeavor to bypass the mainstream media to look for truths? To me, this is a worthwhile soapbox on which to stand.

      1. William Mougayar

        That is a good point Dale. Isn’t there a bit of that on Facebook?

        1. Dale Allyn

          I’m not sure, William. While I have a FB account, I avoid it, so I’m not sure how issues are represented there.I’d really like to see voters (young or not-so-young) research ballot issues in the same way that they’d research buying a new car or a home, etc. Dig into the details, ask friends, apply some critical thinking…

          1. markslater

            they would if they felt that their voice would be heard.

          2. Dale Allyn

            I get it, Mark. It’s too true. But voting based on sound bites, hype and a media with an agenda is a tragedy.

          3. LE

            “research ballot issues in the same way that they’d research buying a new car or a home, etc.”The FTC and other agencies ride herd somewhat on what companies are allowed to say and promise in return for your patronage.With elected officials that is not the case.

          4. Dale Allyn

            My point, LE, was that when one receives the voter’s information packet, it would be meaningful if more people studied it, looked into the information available online and elsewhere regarding the issues and those behind each. E.g. I call a friend who is very active in local politics when faced with a measure that I feel I need more in-depth understanding on. I then search further to understand before casting my vote.I feel that many cast their votes based on what the ad campaigns get them to believe, and I’d like to see a bit more research and understanding involved.

          5. LE

            ” many cast their votes based on what the ad campaigns get them to believe”How true. And of course you realize that the majority of the population is not going to spend time studying, calling, or asking any meaningful questions.It’s a matter of motivation and intelligence. People either don’t have time or don’t have the knowledge or both.People spend time on what they feel is important and has an impact on them. So a guy might spend countless hours on a football pool or researching the latest Harley Davidson motorcycle but he isn’t going to do that researching and thinking about politics. So they rely on proxies, which, in this case, is what the media says or the barage of advertising to make a decision.

          6. StartUpJerkFest

            you may also argue that they don’t do the research because there is no reward for them. it is more rewarding to them to do research on the HD mcycle.but research in politics, probably only brings disgust, either from trying to sort out the truth then finding that a campaign lied about something, then discovering both parties lie, OR feeling that your voice is not really important, you never hear from your representative until election time comes around.then the trust is gone, and the disgust arrives, there is no reward, it is painful, and that is why most people avoid it.if voting was a pure math count, like an American Idol contest, would people get more involved because they saw their vote actually being counted? if politicians published “i promise to-do” lists, and then we could track it like a basecamp app, would that improve the political game? i think that politics is so complex, the balancing of what people want vs personal political office goals, that it’s too much for most people to care about, and hence the apathy we have for voting at this moment in history.maybe FakeGrimlock should eat everybody who doesn’t vote?

          7. William Mougayar

            But generally only a small % of young people are interested in politics. I wonder what would change that.

          8. Dale Allyn

            I agree, William, interest among young people isn’t high. I believe it depends a lot on family dynamics and such. I’d like to see more interest, but not just more voting without considering the issues more deeply than what MTV pushes. πŸ˜‰

          9. William Mougayar

            Maybe younger candidates that break the mold might help motivate younger voters?

          10. Dale Allyn

            There’s a lack of trust, so I believe that when/if there’s a meaningful change in transparency, we’ll see more involvement among younger voters. I don’t think the candidates necessarily need to be young, but they must “get it”. We certainly want wisdom to be part of the makeup of our candidates, and that comes with a bit of aging (normally).I think we’re mostly saying about the same thing, though.

          11. panterosa,

            I have a new FB account, mainly for work. As a new user, I entered the stream in election year and many people are voicing their opinions quite loudly, too loudly for many.I’m just watching and seeing if any opinions interest me. Again, I’m not political, so not of much use in this argument.

          12. Donna Brewington White

            “Apply critical thinking…”That would solve countless problems beyond election results.

  10. jason wright

    The value of the vote is greater when there is something of value to vote for.The vote is the demand side. The supply side needs fixing.

  11. Dave Pinsen

    If people can pay bills online and vote corporate proxies online, maybe they ought to be able to vote online too?Though I do think it would be good if increased convenience were balanced with a requirement that voters be st least minimally informed. Say, for example, knowing the current federal debt to within the nearest trillion.

    1. pointsnfigures

      hackers will steal more elections than politicians do.

      1. markslater

        you couldnt be more wrong

        1. pointsnfigures

          I live in Chicago. We know about stealing elections here….Early voting is just one more way to steal elections. If an iron clad system could be developed it might be interesting-but it seems like hackers hack into just about everything.

    2. Tom Labus

      It would be worth trying and get broadband to everyone first.

    3. Max Yoder

      I hope I’m wrong, but I worry that the β€œdefinitive” estimation of our nation’s debt is purposefully (and woefully) undervalued.

      1. kidmercury

        check the bottom right of this graphic: debt doesn’t include unfunded liabilities. assuming those don’t magically disappear, the total bill is $120 trillion — and counting.

        1. Max Yoder


  12. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    The voting process should be made as easy as possible. I am a Canadian and when we vote in Canada – we have the option to register ourselves at the voting station. Typically all you require is ID an proof of address. It is easy, quick and removes any excuses that someone will raise. I have always been surprised at seemingly more difficult registration process in the US

    1. Steven Kane

      requiring an ID to vote is a hot political issue here in the USA. republicans in favor, democrats opposed.

      1. Dale Allyn

        It’s a head-scratcher to me. What’s the problem with confirming ID as a valid voter? My republican and democrat friends agree, but the politicians with a scheme seem to object. I smell a dirty diaper.

        1. ShanaC

          because getting an id can be hard in this country

          1. Dale Allyn

            I’ve not seen this, but I do accept that government agencies often exhibit ineptitude. By and large, a legitimate citizen (one who meets the criteria to vote) can acquire the necessary ID in most states with little effort. Doing so a few days prior to election day may be difficult indeed, but other than that there are mechanisms and procedures in most states to acquire valid ID.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. Dale Allyn

            I understand, FG. In my city, if one votes at the polling center (as opposed to voting by mail) one is asked for address and required to sign to receive a ballot. Showing ID at that stage would be simple.As for getting the ID in the first place, yep DMV and other gov’t offices suck, but we all endure it as a part of our participation in society. It’s not always convenient, but it is part of working within our systems. Identifying this as a choke point is an important first step to correcting the problem.I’m presently in Thailand and it’s much more difficult to get government authorized documentation here, but people who want to legitimately participate in commerce and other elements of this country endure the inconveniences to get the documentation required. Voter fraud shouldn’t be part of our system.

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          5. Fernando Gutierrez

            All drunk people have one, so it can’t be that difficult! πŸ™‚

          6. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            πŸ™‚ Yes people are resourceful when they want to an ID

          7. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            In Canada they accept a various type of IDs – includes license, health card, passport, citizenship card, et…. – I would imagine that many people in the US do have some of these type of IDs.

  13. jason wright

    I don’t want to be ‘represented’.

    1. markslater

      neither do i – i want to represent.

      1. jason wright


        1. markslater

          myself. my opinion of the issues should be available to my elected official at any given moment. each official should be mandated to use constituent sentiment software that allows for continuous constituent polling on issues. Elected officials should use this information as a tool to make decisions – and constituents should be able to clearly see when officials vote against the general consensus.This is the age old argument for and against the republic. Its written in the constitution that the repulbic form of government essentially “protects us from ourselves” – well thats a load of bollox. All its done is allowed vested interest to ring fence of system of government and flog it off to the highest bidder.There is a software solution to this problem and its some form of sentiment software.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            A paucity of polling really isn’t the problem with our government. The problem is that the future doesn’t get a vote.Polls were in favor of the Patriot Act, and Congress passed it overwhelmingly. The future didn’t get a vote, but future us, 10+ years down the line, might have voted against it in its then-current form, figuring that the risks of future 9/11s were lower than initially feared, and not worth the encroachment on civil liberties. Same with the establishment of the TSA.Same, for that matter, with Social Security and Medicare in their current forms: future us might have asked how present us planned to pay for them.

          2. markslater

            disagree – this form of republic has structural defects that we can solve with software.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            How? How would software address the issues I mentioned (e.g., the current generation voting itself entitlements and saddling future generations with most of the bill)?

          4. markslater

            Two different things dave. the friction between now and the future will always exist no matter what.I am talking about the current system. That allows our elected officials to get bought.

          5. ShanaC

            there is no way that the future us knows what to do now – it doesn’t really exist

          6. ShanaC

            it isn’t. and romney made an excellent case as to why yesterday in his leaked videos. He’s assuming people are out to get him in terms of policy, and therefore don’t matter.

          7. Matt Zagaja

            What about proper sampling? Many people in rural or poorer areas do not have Internet access at the level of the rest of us, or choose not to use the Internet for various reasons. Meanwhile telephone polling is now known to lack accuracy to the extent that mobile users have different rules and react differently than the landline samples. Finally you should also ask whether its appropriate to have consistuents making these decisions. Many of the issues are complex and not easily understood by the average voter. That is why they hire the elected officials to make these decisions for them.

  14. markslater

    To explain to an entire generation who have lived their lives in public – who use tools every day that add transparency to their social lives, who communicate with devices constantly as if by second nature – that you are asking them to register to vote for a person who will then disappear on his donkey in to the corrupt abyss that is Washington is an exercise in futility.This generations opportunity is not to “register to vote”. this generations opportunity is to make voting mean something again, To reverse the archaic justifications for the republic as spelled out in the declaration (its not valid any more it just isn’t)- and to innovate with new sentiment technologies that aim at coupling the voted much more tightly with the voter.over $1B will be spent on buying the white house, Thats not lost on this generation either..

  15. markslater

    Fred – you asking people to vote is like you investing in a concept that is essentially a feature of a larger technology product. (you would never do that)You should be investing in a technology that will disrupt that product. Its broken – its ripe for disruption, its necessary.We are no longer at a point where we rally on the internet in the hopes that our voices are heard – we are at a point where we need to radically evolve our system of government.

    1. kidmercury

      mark i thought i was raining on fred’s post but you are bringing a full blown tropical storm of truth. well done!

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Elections are just a reboot every few years – you still have the same shit o/s – an article elsewhere earlier today on the banking mess pulled out that hackneyed same old metaphor once again – ie, a ‘reboot’ was necessary.What does that change? Nothing.We need a whole low-level sanity-check full reformat. Don’t even bother with a backup as it’s all shit anyway.Then install a new o/s.

        1. markslater

          exactly carl. I good on the reboot thing format C: is what is needed at this stage

        2. RichardF


      2. fredwilson

        he’s full of piss and vinegar today (as my mom would say)

        1. LE

          I took that as a diss but then I looked it up and apparently that’s not necessarily the case.Apparently “rowdy, boisterous, full of youthful energy”.…Edit: Added “necessarily” because there are negative uses. In a sense it’s a good backhanded compliment that can be plausibly denied should the recipient react in the wrong way.

          1. kidmercury

            i’m glad you clarified, i thought it was a diss as well

          2. LE

            I try the best I can to not go off half cocked w/o triangulating at least in the case where there is doubt.I had a case many years ago where an employee for a family friend didn’t give us an order – they gave the order to our competitor because their price was cheaper. I had expected to get a chance to match the price (I know you will love shit like this but that’s the way business works in many cases. In fact it was not unusual for a random buyer to tell us the price we had to match. Such is the way things are often done.). Anyway I wanted to make sure that the family friend knew what their employee was doing. So I had my wife call them (it was her closest friend’s husband) and tell him what was going to happen. The reason was I didn’t want him to come back later and say “oh, you should have told me and I would have…”.So she calls him and he says very point blank “hey they had a lower price business is business ” very snarkly.So then I knew and I didn’t have to assume anything. It would have been trivial for him to throw the business our way. But he didn’t. And that is that.Added: As Regan would say “verify”.

    2. William Mougayar

      Mark – Re: “We are no longer at a point where we rally on the internet in the hopes that our voices are heard.” Is this in the context of the Elections only? And why do you believe so?I think we are barely getting started in terms of letting online advocacy influence and affect real changes.

      1. markslater

        nope its in the context of elected officials no longer climbing on donkey’s and riding on to washington promising to “vote in our best interests”. We all know how that turned out.Each elected official today should be made to wear a nascar driving suit with the logos of all the companies that they have taken money from.

        1. William Mougayar

          I can’t disagree with you, but I’d like to be hopeful. I like your last proposition. There should be a website on that.

      2. raycote

        “we are barely getting started in terms of letting online advocacy influence and affect real changes.”Yes – advocacy through the development of social-networking tools.Viral tools that progressively massage us into new cultural memes(attitudes, language, tools and techniques) that support wide spread process-literacy and dis-intermediation regarding the distributive mechanics of wealth, power, education and control.I think we need to have a little more faith in the power of organic-network-effects to swamp out and dis-intermediate old world corruption.

        1. William Mougayar

          I’d like to see that happen. Yes, “Cultural memes” is an interesting word combination.

          1. raycote

            Just to be clear I’m not taking any credit for the concept of “Cultural memes”.The concept of “Cultural memes” acting as the key intergenerational social evolution transfer vector analogous to genes at the cellular level has been well developed over the last few decades.

    3. RichardF

      so true in the UK as well, Mark

      1. markslater

        excpet it doesnt cost a billion to become the prime minister. You just need to have gone to eton.

        1. jason wright

          Normally Oxford will do.

          1. markslater

            no way. Eton is where this old boy club is groomed. Oxford has a measure of plebs integrated! The public school system in the UK is where it all happens (public is private in the UK)

          2. jason wright

            Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and David Cameron all went to Oxford, but of recent prime ministers only Cameron went first to Eton.

          3. markslater

            yes indeed. but boris and many many others that are in the circle all came out of eton.

    4. Tom Labus

      Well, then you’re going to have to enter the game and run for office.

    5. Richard

      If a politician can sell his voting power, why can’t I sell my vote or non-vote?

      1. markslater

        Anything is for sale Rich.

        1. Richard

          Maybe not, see FW.

      2. ShanaC

        because you selling yours is illegal, whereas you’re representative is just being “convinced” not sold.

        1. Richard

          Yep, no surprise why we are surfing in very choppy waters. Last time I checked DC has three of the wealthiest counties in the nation.

    6. Brandon Marker

      So we should do nothing if we can’t radically evolve it? That is in progress (kind of), so why not attempt to activate people in the meantime?

      1. markslater

        because its forrest for trees – iots more of the same. Its the “oh we cant possibly change it…so i’ll just get onboard with the program and vote…..and moan over a glass of wine at a dinner party about the breakage in the system” approach

        1. Brandon Marker

          I think for this particular group it seems like a moot point. A bunch of go-getters looking to make changes and differences on a larger scale.But we still need to educate the ones who are doing nothing and don’t know it is happening. What if there IS a political revolution and everything starts to get better. But we would still have those individuals on the sidelines that were never activated.He is revisiting a topic that lost much attention over the past few months. Its like you are suggesting we should have all left off the SOPA banners awhile back when the controversy became heated again. They aren’t revolutionary, but they are getting the word out and possibly making the unaware aware. I think you are just focusing on a higher-level approach, which is great, but it is not the only actionable item at the moment.



  16. Joel Grus

    They may have grown up with the Internet, but they’ll mostly pull the lever for a candidate who tried to get YouTube to take down a video because it made fun of Muslims.

    1. fredwilson

      free speech is painful to support. but we must support it.

      1. Wavelengths

        Speaking of addressing an issue locally, thanks for providing a free-speech zone here.Even when I disagree with someone, I often find their opinion informative.

      2. matthughes

        Word, Fred.

      3. LE

        “free speech is painful to support. but we must support it.”Succumbing to the loudest voices or allowing people to riot, kill and extort what they want is even more painful.

    2. fredwilson

      this is a great topic. i may blog about it tomorrow. occasionally someone will write something here that i find hateful. i almost always leave it up and respond to it forcefully. i think its easier to shame something when it is in public than to try to “take it down” and hide it.

      1. falicon

        I strongly believe in ‘leave it up’ and respond in public approach. You taking that approach is one of the orig. things that pulled me in to engage in the community here…I knew that, wrong/right/crazy, I would at least have a chance to be heard and debate my opinions and side of the story…as a community member, I don’t think you can ask for more.Also I think in almost all cases, going on the record with a history that can be found, is incredibly powerful and one of the only ways true change over time can occur…but that probably speaks more to my core beliefs and long running thesis on how the internet as a whole should be integrated into our lives than anything else…

      2. kidmercury

        spoken like a true blog star!

    3. LE

      “take down a video because it made fun of Muslims”What’s most amazing to me about that situation is that it’s not something that anyone is exposed to unless they choose to watch it. If they don’t watch it’s like a tree in a forest thing. They care because they have been brainwashed to give a shit to much about that stuff (and to hate us as well.) Lest anyone think it’s normal behavior to get all riled up about a work of fiction. Anymore than it makes sense to kill doctors who perform abortions because of your religious beliefs.



        1. Matt Zagaja

          Wow that’s the most insightful thing I’ve read in all caps in my entire life.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. StartUpJerkFest

          i guess dinosaurs did not become extinct because of tiny brain. fake grimlock has large brain.

  17. rmchrQB

    The representative system is abysmal, the electoral college is an anachronism, and lobbying, gerrymandering, and ‘voter ID registration’ are manipulative and powerful forces in opposition to direct democracy. As the net natives, the fact-checkers and cynics, we should be restless and angry. Some disruptions take longer than others. This one really is for future generations. The war has many battles within it which must be fought with planning, tools and capital. Occupy-style movements that correlate with general malaise are revealing but ineffectual. Also inadequate: deciding not to vote in the meantime.

    1. ShanaC

      should democracy be directed – the federalists didn’t think so (tyranny of the majority issues)

      1. rmchrQB

        I don’t believe direct democracy (in the purest sense) is sustainable. But I feel it’s important to recognize the forces I refer to above are dynamic. The power and weight of each of our voices are not fixed. Therefore as those who would be in a position to do so would seek to diminish our voice(s) we’ve got to defend our ability to weigh in, if only to retain the status quo. Striving for direct democracy led to the advent of recalls, referendums, and initiatives on ballots. A balanced republic might be a sustainable architecture but fighting corruption and defending the weight of our input is essential.

    2. fredwilson

      when you register to vote, you register for national, state, and local elections. opting out of governing your home community seems like a horrible idea. i get the idea of opting out of the national nonsense. but local is a different story.

      1. rmchrQB

        couldn’t agree more on “opting out” (see my last sentence). in fact, after a layoff in 1/09 i delved hard into local volunteering which led to a job at a local/regional government office. reminded me of my days as a 20 year old DC intern. #highlyrecommend…and to chime in on age-related posts we can’t underestimate, or neglect harnessing, that 18-24 yr old’s political willpower.



  18. Steven Kane

    i think its important for everyone to vote. there is always a “next generation.” young people are no more or less a relevant voting group than any other, no? everyone eligible should register to vote, period. in fact, everyone eligible should automatically be registered to vote, as is done in many countries like the UK. better still, everyone who does vote should get an automatic $50 tax credit good against any federal tax, eg income, payroll, medicare, etc.separately, i am pretty much a free speech absolutist, and so i am appaled the obama administration “suggested” google “review” the youtube video that supposedly has started a conflagration in muslim countries. fred, how do you as a strong advocate of “internet freedom” — which demands “Don’t censor the Internet” — feel about google’s removal (whether self-policed or at the request of governments — of videos that “offend” political or religious sensibilities?

    1. ShanaC

      I actually don’t mind it being reviewed off for a small amount of time. Death of people because someone decided to make a bad movie go viral, and because other countries don’t get how open our media is…

      1. Steven Kane

        so violence trumps freedom of speech? isn’t that an argument for christians to riot over The Last temptation of Christ and Piss Christ?

    2. fredwilson

      yup. i commented on the youtube video thing elsewhere in this post. you are spot on. free speech is painful but necessary.

  19. laurie kalmanson


    1. ShanaC

      is texas going to come into play?

      1. laurie kalmanson

        ? not sure what you mean

        1. ShanaC

          texas has been turning blue in places from republican red – so it might come into play in elections sometime soon

          1. laurie kalmanson

            interesting; i didn’t know that

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            good or negative side effect? I guess it depends on the person πŸ™‚

          4. laurie kalmanson

            so they’re getting smarter?

          5. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          6. laurie kalmanson

            pro grimlock



  20. shawnblog

    Fred, I broke your script! When I entered my old address, after being prompted to do so since I recently moved, the top of the widget displayed “Internal Server Error” (with nothing in the rest of the widget. I’ll try again… I’ve actually been wondering how to re-register or if I need to (guessing that is so).

    1. ShanaC

      it might be an iframe, so it would be their internal service error, rather than freds πŸ™‚

    2. fredwilson

      shit. i will let the folks behind this know

      1. shawnblog

        It worked a few days back. Thanks if that was a fix!

  21. William Mougayar

    I’m not sure if Fred saw this statistic, but it sure supports his message to get the votes out, especially for the younger generation.”Fifty-eight percent of U.S. registered voters aged 18 to 29 say they will “definitely vote” this fall, well below the current national average of 78% and far below 18- to 29-year-olds’ voting intentions in the fall of 2004 and 2008.” That’s 20% less than 2008!

    1. ShanaC

      we’re pissed over jobs.

  22. ShanaC

    I feel like my vote doesn’t count so much anymore – I don’t like the electoral college system. My congressional district is very uniform thanks to gerrymandering, so again, I feel out of place. And I never know enough about local issues except to know as a NY’er, fracking is on the ballot implicitly, but not enough to know what my state reps are doing about it. And my county level rep the only thing I know about him is he’s very old.Part of this is my fault. part of this is the death of local news and local politics….(i’m still voting, but albeit slightly moody about the subject)

  23. Gustavo Melo

    The single biggest opportunity for disruption by “net natives” to the current political system is allowing people to vote online, thus involving people into the political system at a much younger age. Young people already talk online, shop online, read the news online, watch entertainment online, etc. They need to be able to log onto a government website and cast their vote online.To put it bluntly, to a “net native”, if you can’t do it online it must not be worth doing. That’s their sentiment towards voting today. As a result, it won’t be until they have property and families and debt that they will feel enough of a squeeze to protect the status quo to actually get out and vote. And by then, the likelihood they will “change the establishment” is nil.If you could vote online, on the other hand.. The level of engagement among young people would go through the roof. The way political campaigns are run would immediately change. With the right type of online campaigning, younger generations would literally never miss an election – so, practically overnight, they would go from the least represented demographic to the most represented with over 90% showing up to vote.If you want a bold, disruptive idea to invest in, with the potential to permanently alter the political landscape in favor of younger values, online voting is it.

  24. Evan

    I didn’t even know that AVC had a sidebar. It never shows up in Chrome.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      Yes it does… at least in my Chrome. You must have some extension blocking ads.

      1. Evan

        Nope. I run Chrome out of the box, and the sidebar is only at the bottom of the post for me. Doesn’t show up for me in Android either.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          Maybe something with screen width or resolution. In my laptop it shows up at the right but in Chrome for Android it shows up at the bottom.

  25. Semil Shah

    I wonder how many years away we are from electronic voting. I know the pitfalls and challenges that arise with this, but for these and future “wired” generations, and for keeping better records and data of voters, I sincerely hope it all comes online in my lifetime.

  26. RudyC

    While walking yesterday w/my wife, I asked her the question of, “do u think there are computers in the hood?” , ” and do country bumpkins use computers as well?” The point is that 35+ years of ‘drug wars’, sending drug offenders to prison, drop off rates nearing 50% in our urban areas and now voter id legislation being passed in states around the country only magnify the problem.The point is that democracy only works with a semi educated populace. I was thought the internet would help with democracy. Any thoughts of that vanished with the plight of voter id.As far as educating the populace, the occupy movement didn’t get very far w/that..

    1. kidmercury

      the biggest factor in education is the student’s own desire to learn. the american people don’t want to learn about government or economic problems. perhaps as the problem escalates this mentality will change.

  27. Elia Freedman

    Increasing voter participation is not rocket science. Make it more convenient for voters. Oregon would make a great role model for the country. At election time we receive two things in the mail, a voter pamphlet and a ballet.The pamphlet allows anyone, for a couple of hundred bucks, to buy a one page ad in which you can state your position on an initiative or, if running for office, your candidacy credentials. Since so many people rely on the pamphlet to form an opinion it has the effect of driving some money out of the system, in my opinion. We have our share of election mistakes but overall it seems to do a good job of education.The ballet can either be filled in and sent back or dropped off at locations like post offices and libraries. Our voting record is somewhere north of 60% even in off-year elections.

  28. Vote Nobody

    If casting a ballot, I would write in ‘Nobody’ on every field. Nobody is the best candidate possible because:Nobody will keep election promises.Nobody will listen to your concerns.Nobody will help the poor and unemployed.Nobody cares!If Nobody is elected, things will be better for everyone.Nobody tells the truth.Therefore, the answer is obvious. Vote for Nobody.

    1. Steven Kane

      thats silly. dont get so easily burned out. dont let the perfect become the enemy of the good. look around the world – which other political system would you rather live under?

      1. kidmercury

        the US is better than a lot of places, though many arguments can be made that it is not the best. more importantly, comparisons are odious. the goal is quality, not to be less shitty than everyone else.paraguay. no income tax, agricultural safety, natural energy sources.

  29. Matt Zagaja

    Thanks Fred, it has been consistantly shown that people are more likely to vote if they know their friends and neighbors do it too. So it makes a difference.As someone who has been involved in this for a while now changing the system is not difficult, but changing the culture is. There are certain tweaks like registration requirements and Voter ID and vote by mail that can help enhance participation and make it easier. Those tweaks are worth making, and we should aspire to have an online voting system. In Connecticut members of the military can cast their votes online. Soon people will be able to register to vote online as well. It’s coming. None of this has any meaning unless people become informed and have discussions with their friends and neighbors. We have to be open and honest with each other. If we do not build a culture of particpation then people will not participate. I have seen this first hand, many party organizations do not welcome new members with open arms. They are reluctant to change. My advice for now: show-up with friends. The meetings are open and they cannot turn you away. Get to know your state representative and town or city officials. Write letters to your newspaper and congressman about issues that matter to you. Advocate, but also be willing to learn from others. Most importantly build friendships. That’s how you change it.

  30. chartreuse

    There was a phrase in my parents house, “Saying you’re sorry doesn’t walk the dog.” Meaning that apologizing, complaining and the like doesn’t get anything done. So I like what you’re doing. People need to vote.

  31. Evan

    The biggest danger to democracy is ill-informed voting, not a mere lack of voting.

  32. Rich

    For everyone who thinks that voter fraud is a big issue I suggest that you do a shift as a Poll-Watcher in your local polling place. I’ve been one in every election and primary for the last 8 years, there is virtually no way voter fraud is occurring. Almost everyone coming in to vote is personally known by at least one person working the polls. Instead of bytching about fraud, maybe you should get off your butt and help. /civic rant off

    1. matthughes

      “Almost everyone coming in to vote is personally known by at least one person working the polls.”How is that possible?I never miss voting and I can’t say I have ever known or recognized anyone at a polling place.

  33. matthughes

    With relative ease, I’ve been able to register & vote in three states over the years.And I’ve also cast a couple of absentee ballots while I was out of the country.I’m sure there are exceptions but I generally believe if you take the initiative, voting is quite simple.People saying otherwise are either misinformed or voting is not a priority.Insofar as the Internet can inform and facilitate a vote, I’m all for it.But the Internet won’t help anyone that doesn’t take the initiative.

  34. Allon Yosha

    Do you think the government will ever allow online voting? What are the hurdles?

  35. Guest

    “ErrorUnfortunately, there was an error when attempting to process your registration.enter a partyWe’ve logged your information and will attempt to correct the error. When we do, we’ll get back in touch.”I guess they don’t like Independent voters…

  36. Vitomir Jevremovic

    in today’s world, voting is not good enough. Not good at all. Internet communities should build a new system, a new infrastructure of conversation and value.. and then vote for it self.. world needs a change, a big one. That will not happen while voting within the system.

    1. William Mougayar

      “Internet communities should build a new system, a new infrastructure of conversation and value.” I totally believe in this. Several of these advocacy communities exist, but they may not be well connected and aware of each other to achieve the maximum required synergy. That said, it magically happened for SOPA/PIPA via the power of online conversations that spilled over to the real world of action.

    2. kidmercury


  37. george

    I wonder how much longer we can use the term internet freedom?

  38. Pete Griffiths

    Getting out the vote is a vote for democracy. But democracy has long had its critics.…For Plato democracy is a degenerate form of government, barely scraping above tyranny.”DemocracyOligarchy then degenerates into democracy where freedom is the supreme good but freedom is also slavery. In democracy, the lower class grows bigger and bigger. The poor become the winners. Diversity is supreme. People are free to do what they want and live how they want. People can even break the law if they so chose. This appears to be very similar to anarchy.Plato uses the “democratic man” to represent democracy. The democratic man is the son of the oligarchic man. Unlike his father, the democratic man is consumed with unnecessary desires. Plato describes necessary desires as desires that we have out of instinct or desires that we have in order to survive. Unnecessary desires are desires we can teach ourselves to resist such as the desire for riches. The democratic man takes great interest in all the things he can buy with his money. He does whatever he wants whenever he wants to do it. His life has no order or priority.”Just sayin’…

  39. Donna Brewington White

    I can only hope that encouraging net natives to vote leads to something bigger …like disruption. Gotta start somewhere.

  40. Techman

    I noticed that embed, I was wondering what it was for. Thanks for the information. Can I suggest you to set the height of the iframe, that way it only takes up as much space as it needs? I’ll list some CSS rules below:#voterreg_frame {height: 31em; width: 100%;}

  41. Niko

    I don’t know… from my perspective, if you don’t care enough about the issues to even bother to register, you probably don’t know enough about the issues to cast an informed vote.I say, if you’re uninformed, don’t vote… Only vote if you’re also going to take the time to learn about what it is you’re opting for. “Rock the Vote” always pissed me off because it was essentially rallying the apathetic and uninformed and telling them you’re bad if you don’t vote. I say: educate them before you walk them to the polls. The only thing worse than not voting is voting without understanding.

  42. StartUpJerkFest

    hmmm, not impressed yet with the register to vote widget. it took too long to fill in, too many data fields, too long screen refresh, i think anyone not registered yet who tried it would have given up.the question “what was your last address?” might be better phrased as “do you have a previous mailing address?”.finally after all that, you find out that they only collected all that information so they can pre-fill in a voter registration form. the internet savy expect to be instantly registered to vote, not to have to send in a paper based form. conversion will probably drop off to zero at that point. when you signup for facebook, they don’t send you a paper form that you need to send back to them.also it didn’t detect that i was already registered to vote. it didn’t specify when i had to turn in my form (no deadline date), and it didn’t give me any kind of reward for going through all that pain. i don’t know what will be done with my data i provided, will i get a bunch of emails and mailings from people who think i’m not registered to vote yet?and when their email came into my Outlook, OL threw it in the spam suspects folder with a 7% spam probability due to words used in the email message.glad to be a participant in UX testing

  43. John Revay

    Interesting video – Sarah SilvermanThis may be dated by a week or so…. is some inappropriate language

  44. ShanaC

    you’re kidding me, right? The Jr means you can’t vote?And this is why I try to stay consistent with my ids (except for this one on the internet)

  45. fredwilson

    i did and i fixed it. that’s a common error i make. sorry about that.