In the second chapter of Dan Gillmor’s book, We the Media, he talks briefly about the 2000 presidential election and how he accessed election results from the internet while living in Hong Kong. This brought back a flurry of memories for me. That election was one of the single proudest moments in my life – my name was on the same ballot with Al Gore.
It seems like only yesterday, but in fact, it’s been a decade since I ran a political campaign of my own. That year, I was a candidate for the office of Township Clerk (similar to a City Councilmember but on a smaller scale). I was only 22 years old and a new resident in town; my opponent was a woman in her 50’s whose family had lived in the community for generations. I was in for an uphill battle.
After reading John McQuaid’s article, Blogging in the 2008 Presidential Campaign, I realized how different my campaign strategy would have been if I were running for office today.
Ten years ago, the most effective way for me to campaign was through word of mouth. Since I couldn’t afford ads on television or radio, I actually went door-to-door to meet voters. I handed out pamphlets and put up signs. I depended heavily on my supporters to get the word out to their friends, family, and church members. My whole campaign cost less than $350.
Very few people had internet access so there was no emails or websites. Blogs, text messages, social networks, wikis, Google – I hadn’t even heard of these yet!
Still, one of my platforms in the election was to build a website for the Township where residents could get information about the Township Board, library, fire department, elections, and property taxes. I figured it was only a matter of time before the internet caught on in our small town and I thought we should be prepared for it.
Although I ran uncontested in the general election, I won the primaries by only 4 votes. The results were posted on a website called Election Magic, which looks pretty darn primitive by today’s standards. You can still see the election results from that night in their archives. I didn’t realize it back then, but in a way, history was being made — never before in Michigan’s history had Township election results been posted on the internet. I guess that’s just one more thing I can be proud of about that day!