A handful of Web sites are giving U.S. citizens the opportunity to participate in national political party conventions without having to travel to Philadelphia or Los Angeles.
This year’s presidential campaign is the first election to be heavily covered on the Internet. The shift to Net coverage is being fueled by the likely candidates, Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, who are eager to exploit the new medium in a tight race.
Grand Old Web Site
As its name suggests, GOPConvention.com was developed specifically to cover the Republican convention, which will be held in Philadelphia from July 31st through August 3rd. Organizers of the event say their goal is to create “the most open and accessible convention in history.”
At the GOP site, Web visitors will be able to join online question-and-answer sessions with convention participants and provide feedback on proceedings. They will also be able to link to pages for the delegations from their home states.
The GOP site offers a 2000 Republican National Convention screensaver for download and lets visitors digitally sign an electronic banner welcoming Governor Bush to the convention.
“We hope this innovation in digital democracy will afford the broadest possible access to the convention, particularly among younger voters and those unable to be in Philadelphia in person,” Republican convention co-chairman Andrew Card said.
Democratic Site 2000
Dems2000.com is the official site of the Democratic National Convention, to be held in Los Angeles August 14th through 17th. The site plans to integrate exclusive Internet broadcasts into its coverage, streaming live video from the convention.
Video coverage will consist of 360-degree camera views, online video features and live Webcasts that will take visitors behind the scenes into the speakers’ lounge and backstage on the convention floor.
The Democratic site is inviting Web visitors to participate in the drafting of the 2000 Democratic Platform, because “in this election year, technology allows us to be more open than ever before.”
Behind the Scenes at Voter.com
Voter.com is a privately held Web site that says its purpose is “to educate and empower the voter.” Voter.com plans to provide behind-the-scenes reporting and analysis. Voter.com will also be conducting nightly bipartisan polls during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions under the name “Battleground 2000 Poll.”
“Voter.com has worked to serve up all the events, the flavor and the feel of the national conventions to its users,” said its CEO Justin Dangel. “Users will get the latest polling information from Voter.com’s nightly tracking as well as a backstage pass to the parties.”
Some of the grassroots organizations holding protests outside the convention halls also have Web presences to help protesters find groups catering to their particular views. R2Kphilly is the hub for activities in Philadelphia, while in Los Angeles, protests are being coordinated by D2KLA.
In addition, Unity 2000 and the Philadelphia Direct Action Group are using the Internet to organize protests during the Republican convention. Both sites are posting information about their events and collecting donations online.
iVillage.com, a site devoted to women and women’s issues, will team up with Voter.com to host events at each convention, promoting the accomplishments of women in politics. In Los Angeles, the events will include a panel discussion called “From Soccer Moms to Web-wise women: The Internet, Women and the 2000 Elections,” to be moderated by iVillage.com.