However you felt about the results of the 2016 election, one thing is clear: our nation is still demonstrating a fierce divide. Only four times before in our nation’s history has our winner reflected an electoral selection but not the popular vote. There’s a lot being written about this phenomenon and I don’t pretend to have enough wisdom to set it all in context, but I do know that there was a smaller, less talked about story that took place on election day that makes me think we might be able to build some better bridges between one another in the year’s to come.
Over the last year, Tim Draper’s Fix California Challenge solicited reform ideas from around the world. Innovate Your State ran the Challenge using IdeaScale’s crowdsourcing platform. 500+ ideas, 1,100+ comments, and 8,000+ votes were submitted and one made it to the state ballot this November.
The winning idea was Proposition 54: The California Legislature Transparency Act was submitted by Sam Blakeslee (former California Senator and Assemblyman) and it was created in the spirit of making government more accountable to citizens. The proposal amended the California State Constitution to require each bill to be in print and posted online for at least 72 hours before it can pass out of either house or the Legislature. It also required that the Legislature make video recordings of every official public legislative meeting available within 24 hours.
It was a popular suggestion (particularly among the civically engaged) and on November 8th, Californians voted in favor of Prop 54 (64.9% and counting!) and now have improved transparency and access to state proceedings on their behalf.
As far as we know, this is California’s first crowdsourced ballot initiative and its success asks some important questions in a divided country: can we do more to build towards consensus in advance of voting by crowdsourcing solutions to some of our most pressing problems? Can we more predictably anticipate change at both a state and federal level if we are involving the crowd in solutions throughout the campaign process?
These are simplified questions in a world of complex problems, but the Innovate Your State model certainly offers a renewed model for citizen engagement that is worth taking a look at.
To learn more about the Fix California Challenge and Innovate Your State, read the full case study here.