As states and cities across the country grapple with new election challenges in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, the nonprofit organization MapLight released a prototype for software to allow for secure endorsement of candidates and ballot measures online. MapLight is offering to install secure, open-source signature collection software free-of-charge for city and state governments that wish to move forward with digital endorsements for candidates and ballot measures.
With in-person signature gathering now considered unsafe, an online endorsement system would allow candidates to continue collecting signatures for nominating petitions to secure a place on the ballot during the public health crisis. Online signature gathering also represents an opportunity for local governments to modernize the signature gathering process.
Click here to view MapLight’s prototype of software for digital endorsement for candidates and ballot measures.
“We’re thrilled to offer city and state governments an opportunity to help our democracy thrive, even while we fight the current crisis by limiting in-person contact and gatherings,” said MapLight President and Co-Founder Daniel G. Newman. “Candidates for office should not be forced to end their campaigns simply because collecting signatures in person is no longer possible.”
MapLight will work directly with local government leaders wishing to implement digital endorsement for candidates and ballot measures and will tailor the software to each government's requirements. Once a city or state government makes a commitment to use digital signature collection, MapLight will launch the system for public use within 90 days.
“We recognize system security is a top priority for protecting the integrity of the signature gathering process, and our system includes modern security best practices as well as a third party audit,” added Newman.
MapLight has a long track record of building high-performance software and online interfaces for political data and of improving public access to campaign finance information. In partnership with the California Secretary of State and with funding from a philanthropic foundation, MapLight has built several transparency tools to improve access to campaign finance information in California, including California Power Search and the Quick Guide to Propositions. These projects were designed to present data in an accessible, easy-to-understand way and developed with open source software that can be adopted and customized by anyone.
For more information on partnering with MapLight to create custom software for online endorsements of ballot measures and candidates, contact Daniel Newman at dnewman@maplight or 510-868-0894.