As you’ve seen in previous posts here, the Internet is truly transforming the election process in this country. There’s another new twist in the web 2.0 revolution taking over politics. In California we have a very contentious proposition on the ballot, Prop 8. In June the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry. Since that time over 16,000 gay and lesbian couples have married. If passed, Prop 8 will eliminate this right. What will happen to the 32,000 people who just got married? No one knows for sure, but at the moment Yes on 8 is trailing by only 5 percentage points making newly weds like me very nervous.
I would say that in California more people are talking about Prop 8 than President Obama. For example, on Friday I got asked by one of my classes, “Mr. Wood, how are you going to vote on Prop 8?” It came completely out of left field and caught me off guard. I don’t think I’ve ever had a student ask me how I stand on a proposition. President? Yes. Propositions? No. It isn’t uncommon to see Yes and No groups on both sides of an intersection yelling and screaming.
When it came to elections it used to be that the only way you could easily identify the candidate or issue a person supported was if they put a sticker on their car or a sign in their yard (like Steve Young). For Prop 8 it now only requires a few clicks from your computer. Last week both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times launched searchable databases allowing users to identify financial backers.
Searchable databases are nothing new. Just from the Sacramento Bee website users can find databases for food inspections, arrest logs, and teacher salaries. I’m sure our newspaper is hardly unique. In politics projects like Fundrace have been easily accessible since the 2004 election. What makes the Prop 8 database unique is that it that it identifies people who support or disagree with the continuation of civil rights for other citizens. Think about it. This is very different than identifying supporters of Presidential candidates. When in history have we had this kind of openness? I wonder if these people had any idea how easy it would be to identify their name, employer, and the amount of money they gave when they donated money? For me the Chronicle database has been an eye-opening experience and as this article states, its probably more than I wanted to know. There’s no more hiding. Now I have a few former high school friends and coworkers to call.
Photo: Vote No on 8 by Kahscho