If you want to know where the candidates stand on the issues, you can comb the Web for their sites, or you can go to the Democracy Network, which opened today.
The Democracy Network is only one of a myriad of Web sites springing up on the political landscape this election year. Candidates, political organizations, campaigns for particular issues, and other nonprofit organizations such as Smart Voter all have Web sites. Indeed, if there's a political group, cause, or issue, there's sure to be a Web site.
But the Democracy Network, an offshoot of the Center for Governmental Studies, promises to differentiate itself from the field by allowing candidates direct, unfiltered access to databases that they can constantly update, according to Area Madaras, project manager.
The network also has great ambitions of serving every local community across the country with broad support from technology companies, Madaras said. But right now, with backing from national foundations, it gives voice to national candidates along with local ones from the test city of Santa Monica, California, where it is situated.
"We're providing a Web space for voters to get access directly to what it is that candidates have to say about the issues," Madaras said. "Our ambition is to take it nationwide. We're starting on a community-by-community basis and expanding."
The system's technology allows for rapid expansion, she said. Candidates are given a hidden URL, a password, and candidate ID codes that allow them to pump information into the database themselves.
Staffers working for the Web site also can manually enter data from candidates or campaigns that don't have access to the technology or want to send in positions. But the ease of use means that it could be broadly expanded.
Madaras said she hopes that eventually, the Network will be supported by a "coalition of digital technology companies the same way C-Span is funded through cable companies."