This year’s election cycle has no shortage of drama and eye-popping headlines.

From the intense presidential election to the long list of San Diego ballot measures, it’s safe to say 2016 will be remembered as one of the most significant years in political history.

But looking beyond the rhetoric, we will also remember 2016 for different, more positive, reasons.

Thanks to advancements in technology, the 2016 election will be more open and the electorate will be more engaged than ever before.

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Opening Democracy to All

On September 24, at Voice of San Diego’s Politifest at San Diego State University, The San Diego Foundation hosted an event drawing attention to the new technologies and tactics that are helping to create a truly open and civically engaged San Diego.

Advances in social media to promote increased engagement, new resources for first-time and low-propensity voters, and more refined open data technology demonstrate San Diego leaders are working to ensure information remains timely and transparent so the voices of all San Diegans are heard.

At the event, McKenzie Richardson, UC San Diego student and Chapter Chair for CALPIRG (California Public Interest Research Group), spoke about how voter engagement has evolved.

“Many young people don’t feel educated enough on topics to vote,” she noted. Which is why through the New Voters Project, CALPIRG created educational tools to help first-time voters.

They also incorporated tactics such as texting. “We’ve seen that by sending text reminders to young voters, we can increase the likelihood of voting on election day,” highlighted McKenzie.

Christopher Wilson, Associate Director of Alliance San Diego, talked about new ways to reach young and low-propensity voters. “Instead of running ads on NPR and nightly news programs, we reach out to youth where they are – on buses, on urban and pop radio stations, and on social media,” he explained.

Open Democracy Panel

The Open Democracy panel at Voice of San Diego’s Politifest 2016 takes questions from the audience.

See more photos from the event >

Thanks to these methods, Alliance San Diego saw a 10 percent increase in voting in 2012 among individuals contacted.

Xavier Leonard, Founder of Fab Lab San Diego and Public Technology and Data Strategist for the City of San Diego’s Civic Innovation Lab, rounded out the panel by emphasizing the importance of using data and technology to empower communities.

“When people receive information they want, in the way they want it, they are more likely to engage and take action,” Xavier explained.

Take Action

As event moderator Almis Udrys, ‎Director of Performance and Analytics at City of San Diego, described voting, “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

The decisions voters make on November 8 will impact the San Diego region for generations. Take advantage of the many tools and resources available to stay informed and engaged.

And most importantly, vote on November 8.

Register Now

How do you consume information about the election? Let us know in the comments below!