Local political strategist and onetime San Jose Inside blogger Jude Barry has announced a new business venture that he hopes will revolutionize the process of signature-gathering for ballot initiatives.
Barry, along with partners Michael Marubio and Steve Churchwell, announced yesterday that they are releasing an iPhone application that allows activists to distribute ballot initiative language via email or social networks, and —this is the killer app—to collect and verify signatures on iPhones, Droids or other devices. They have a snappy moniker for the device—Verafirma—and their company: the Verafirma Democracy Project.
The launch was announced yesterday in a post labeled “Excloo” on CalBuzz, a lively state-politics website run by former Merc editor Phil Trounstine and former Chron editor Jerry Roberts, where Barry is a contributing writer. The post points out that the launch could make a big splash:
Costs will be negotiable, but according to Barry, they will be “dramatically less” than the $1 to $2 per signature currently paid to signature-gathering firms. Because ballot proponents typically need about 600,000 signatures for a statutory measure and about 1 million for a constitutional amendment, cutting the price for signatures could go a long way toward empowering boot-strap, grassroots forces.
A YouTube video accompanying the launch pitches the new technology as a powerful tool for political empowerment: “Ultimately this is not about interest groups talking at voters, but friends talking with friends, neighbors talking with neighbors, all using Verafirma as a natural tool to allow them to understand and participate in their government.”