San Francisco is rolling out a new “participatory budgeting” initiative that would allow residents to choose how the city spends its tax dollars. The online voting process would be the first major U.S. city to use citizen crowdsourcing to make and improve policy decisions. According to a recent article in TechCrunch, “[The city’s plan] is for each city district to vote on $100,000 in expenditures. Citizens will get to choose how the money is spent from a list of options, similar to the way they already vote from a list of ballot propositions. Topical experts will help San Francisco residents deliberate online.” This is a great example of how the United States is starting to use online tools to engage people in a way that impacts their lives. If the model can work in San Francisco, the rest of the country could be well on its way to a truly democratic government.
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