As democracy goes digital, those offline are being pushed out of politics

Renata Avila at the Web Foundation: “Free and fair elections require an informed, active body of citizens debating the electoral issues of the day and scrutinising the positions of candidates. Participation at each and every stage of an electoral campaign — not just on the day of the vote — is necessary for a healthy democracy.

Those online have access to an increasingly sophisticated set of tools to do just this: to learn about candidates, to participate in political discussions, to shape debate and raise issues that matter to them. Or even, run for office themselves.

What does this mean for those citizens who don’t have access to the internet? Do online debates capture their needs, concerns and interests? Are the priorities of those not connected represented on the political stage?

The Mexican election: a story of digital inequality

María de Jesús “Marichuy” Patricio Martinez was selected as an independent candidate in Mexico’s recent July 1 elections general election — the first indigenous woman to run for president. But digital barriers doomed her candidacy.

Independent presidential candidates in Mexico are required to collect 866,000 signatures using a mandatory mobile app that only runs on relatively new smartphones. This means that to collect the required endorsements, a candidate and their supporters all need a modern smartphone — which typically costs around three times the minimum monthly salary — plus electricity and mobile data. These are resources many people in indigenous communities simply don’t have. While the electoral authorities exempted some municipalities from this process, it did not cover the mostly poor and indigenous areas that Marichuy wanted to represent. She was unable to gather the signatures needed….(More)”.