Vancouver's civic election on Saturday, Nov. 15 is fast approaching. Have you attended any public debates? Do you know the issues?
I know, I know. Most of us are too busy, too jaded, too bored, too uninformed, too (fill in the blank here).
Yet we spend hours (admit it) online, on our computers, smartphones, tablets.
Here at The Huffington Post B.C., we wondered how we could bring those two dichotomies together. What could we do to help make leaden politics accessible, to spark some unconventional discussion, and to attract an audience that may not usually turn up at traditional debates?
It was a no-brainer to turn to Reddit, the social media platform that functions on pure democracy. Registered users submit links and text posts, and the community decides if the content is worth reading by voting the content up or down.
Items that are upvoted are featured more prominently on the site. Users can comment on any content, and engage and inform each other. The best Reddit threads are organic, transparent, engaging -- the same attributes you'd want from a political debate or candidate.
That has spawned a popular Reddit feature called AMA, which stands for "Ask Me Anything." People ranging from U.S. President Barack Obama to pop icon Madonna to an anonymous McDonald's employee have participated in the question and answer format. Vancouver celebrity chef and restaurateur Vikram Vij did one just last week.
Questions are not screened beforehand: users can literally ask anything. And how someone answers -- or doesn't answer -- speaks volumes. Even more, commenters don't hold back what they think in real time.
With the blessing of the moderators of the /r/Vancouver subreddit, we reached out to the three main Vancouver mayoral candidates to see if we could facilitate AMAs.
After much juggling of their very busy schedules, we're excited to announce that they are keen to participate in this online experiment:
from Monday, Oct. 20
To be clear though, we won't be moderating questions or assisting candidates' with their answers. We are helping guide them through Reddit basics and any technical issues.
How engaging -- and dare we say, fun -- the AMA will be depends on your questions and participation. We hope you'll use this opportunity to get to know these candidates, and to press them to go beyond their platforms.
In 2011, roughly one in every three eligible Vancouver voters (34.57 per cent) bothered to cast a ballot. (That's on par with the 29.55 per cent turnout for municipal elections across B.C. that year.)
These days it's easier than ever, in fact. Short on time? You know have eight more days of advance voting in Vancouver from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. And for the first time, Vancouver voters can cast ballots at any of the 120 locations in the city.
And we hope chatting with some of the candidates on Reddit may motivate you to get there.
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- Let's Start An Adopt-A-Voter Program - Louise Wallace
- How To Keep Big Money Out Of B.C. Municipal Elections - Alex Sangha
- What My Eclipsed Run For Office Says About Vancouver Politics - Trish Kelly