IserveU says online councillor-control system ‘close to launch’

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Online direct democracy group IserveU plans to launch its full website in the next few weeks.

“That’s the plan,” IserveU’s Dane Mason told Moose FM on Monday.

IserveU wants Yellowknife residents to control how councillors make decisions by voting for or against motions ahead of council meetings.

Councillors using IserveU would then be bound to act according to the result of the online vote – assuming a certain (as-yet unspecified) percentage of residents took part.

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IserveU ran a high-profile municipal election campaign in a bid to elect three candidates to the eight-member Yellowknife City Council.

One of the three, Rommel Silverio, was successful in October’s election. However, several months on, IserveU continues to work on its website and residents cannot yet vote on motions as promised.

“The beta is up for public testing,” said Mason, referring to a pre-release version of the site used to check for bugs and develop features.

Try it: IserveU’s beta (test) website (requires registration)

“We’ve had a good amount of feedback there and our programmers have version one almost ready for launch – that’ll be coming up very shortly.

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“I don’t want to commit to a solid date on it right now, but it’s very close.”

Anyone heading to the beta site is asked to confirm they are a Canadian citizen and voting Yellowknife resident before using IserveU.

Currently, users are then asked to fill in their address, birth date and ethnicity. The latter demands that users select from an unusual list, in which options exist for geographical areas (e.g. “Northern America”) but not more common definitions of ethnicity such as Caucasian, Asian or First Nations.

Features such as these can be expected to change as developers work on the finished product.

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IserveU beta screengrab
A screengrab from IserveU’s beta, showing voting buttons.

Anyone registering must then wait for their “identity to be authorized” (in IserveU’s words) before proceeding to vote. At the time of writing, one test motion appeared on the site.

“Right now, it’s functional,” said Mason. “That will turn into the full first version early this year and will help give Rommel, and hopefully some others, some direction on how to vote.”

IserveU has hired a full-time programmer to speed up development work. The group is also working on side projects such as coding classes and work with high schools.

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