Little Samaritan Brothers: Crowdsourcing Voter Surveillance
Forthcoming in 17 LAW & ETHICS OF HUMAN RIGHTS (2023)
31 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2023
Date Written: September 22, 2022
Voter surveillance for digital campaigning is perceived as enacted from above. Political parties are ‘all-seeing actors’ combining access to the Voters’ Registry with digital tools to maximize voter turnout. At the same time, new forms of lateral surveillance emerge as citizens voluntarily participate in the data collection process to help political parties achieve their electoral goals.
This article examines the reconfiguration of the concepts of crowdsourcing and political participation through the use of voter-surveillance applications. Theoretically, it explores how crowdsourced voter surveillance (CVS) builds on the emancipatory rhetoric of political participation and crowdsourcing while relying on social, technical, and political surveillance infrastructures. Empirically, it maps the information flows and knowledge hierarchies afforded by Elector, a CVS app used by the Likud party in the Israeli election of March 2020.
The findings indicate that contrary to the logic of crowdsourcing as democratizing knowledge and participation, CVS cultivates controlled individuals and normalizes lateral surveillance as a ritualistic and desired form of political participation. The article therefore describes the type of political action that CVS constructs as Little Samaritan Brothers: citizens who collectively resign their rights and the rights of their peers for the party’s success.
Keywords: Crowdsourcing, Political Campaigns, Computational Politics, Surveillance, Political Participation, Canvassing, Apps
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