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YK e-democracy campaign plans at least three candidates

Members of a Yellowknife group expect to field at least three candidates in this fall’s municipal election – all of whom will pledge to obey the outcome of online votes if elected.

IServeU is promising “greater control for the general public” using a system where residents vote online on each issue, then IServeU-backed councillors vote in council accordingly.

The group says three candidates will definitely stand in November’s election, and it hopes to increase that to five – which, if all elected, would give IServeU control of Yellowknife’s city council.

In the past, other city politicians have expressed reservations about IServeU’s plans.

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But the organization is now beginning door-to-door campaigning in Yellowknife, five nights a week, in the hope of persuading residents that its online system has merit.

“That campaign has been going astoundingly well,” IServeU’s Dane Mason told Moose FM. “Everyone who answered, except for two people, wanted to do it and wanted to sign up.

“We were worried about voter engagement but we’ve been finding people aren’t disengaged – they just feel disenfranchised. They see IServeU as a way to engage in the municipal process and in municipal decisions that affect them, and they’ve been very excited to try to take part.”

More information: Visit IServeU’s website

IServeU is leading its drive for electoral success with appearances at a number of major Yellowknife events in August, ranging from the Ptarmicon convention to sports events.

Plans for the campaign have been many months in the making, as IServeU worked on its online system.

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The theory is that you can vote on any issue in which you’re interested – and the elected councillor goes along with the majority. The councillor can decide on your behalf when you’re not that bothered.

This system is currently not in place anywhere else in the world, according to IServeU, though other organizations with similar goals – such as Democracy OS – do exist.

“It’s a leadership responsibility that I think Yellowknife is ready for,” said Mason. “Yellowknife has always been a frontier town, willing to try new things and new approaches. I think we’re all going to be very proud of Yellowknife when we accomplish this.”

Mayor Mark Heyck has been less enthusiastic in his reception for IServeU’s plans.

“On the surface, something like this doesn’t sound like it allows for compromise,” Heyck told Edge YK in January.

“Councillors would have to simply vote yay or nay based on the website, and that’s not how things work. Motions can be changed during discussions to gain the support of all councillors. This would rob councillors of the ability to be swayed through debate or presentations from the public.”

The municipal election takes place on October 19. Mason hopes to field five candidates, but says even one will be enough.

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“We’ll be putting out at least three candidates and we’re hoping for five,” he said.

“Five is the magic number that would give the people of Yellowknife a way to make any decision they wanted to engage on, the way they democratically want it to happen.

“But I would be happy just to see it work, and see it work well. From there, it’s going to be a fast-moving process.”

Updated 21:43, August 17. An earlier version of this article incorrectly gave the month of the forthcoming municipal election as November. The election is set for October 19.

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