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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Facebook: The New S.F. Voter Guide

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2011 at 8:35 AM

click to enlarge Who reads that shit anyway?
  • Who reads that shit anyway?

Long gone should be the days of those wasteful and cumbersome voter guides delivered to your mailbox every election cycle. Just weeks before Election Day, some local programmers invented a much more efficient and less sterile way to get to know your candidates., launched two weeks ago, is a Facebook voter guide, where the election discourse is dictated by you and your "friends" -- not the candidates and their campaign literature.

Here's how it works.: You can log onto Facebook, share your opinions about who you are supporting and who you aren't, rank your choices, and state which candidates you approve or disapprove of. You can also be matched up with Facebook users who share similar views.

And kind of like Yelp, users will rate comments, pushing the most popular ones to the top of the list.

"If you look at the Occupy movement, money in politics is

the central issue of this year and my sense is one of the ways we could

do something concrete and immediate on that issue is to make unregulated

campaign cash less effective in getting candidates elected," said Jesse Sanford, a San Francisco programmer who helped launch the site. "We want

to reward those with best ideas and best reputations rather than the deepest


Already more than 200 users have signed up, expressing some 500 opinions and views on San Francisco candidates, including those running for district attorney and sheriff. It's especially helpful to the voter having trouble distinguishing between so many "jobs" candidates.

Obviously, it's not scientific, as evidenced by the fact that Supervisor John Avalos, the lone progressive in the mayoral race, has the most user "approvals" followed by the not-so-hot Phil Ting, who is definitely not a frontrunner in the race. Yet, it's not necessarily about determining who is in the lead, it's more about eliminating the "spin" that comes from candidates and their campaigns.

"It's a neutral forum to get ideas out that you might not otherwise put out there," Sanford says. But what happens if those "ideas" and opinions don't jive with the campaigns? Sanford admits they aren't doing any fact-checking and will only consider removing comments on a case-by-case basis when a candidate protests.

"San Franciscans are smart and politically savvy, and are used to disagreement and a lot of color in the city's democratic process," Sanford told us. "And for that reason a site that allows  for disagreement and is catered toward the deciding voter rather than a candidate who wants a happy page for himself is a better fit for San Francisco."

Find out what who your friends are voting for on

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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