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Votizen, for Viewing Your Friends' Voting Records

A social media site allows users to search contacts’ voting records
From left, Votizen co-founders David Binetti and Jason Putorti
From left, Votizen co-founders David Binetti and Jason PutortiPhotographs by Gabriela Hasbun for Bloomberg Businessweek

In 2009, David Binetti, a Web entrepreneur who helped build the federal government’s Web portal USA.gov, began collecting the voter registration records of 200 million Americans. The data—from several hundred state, county, and city registrars—made for an unholy collection of obsolete file formats, from floppy disks to an 18-inch roll of magnetic tape made for a 1951 UNIVAC mainframe. Binetti and his staff spent two years loading all of it into a searchable, sortable database that’s 1,000 gigabytes large. That was the first massive step in building Votizen, a website with the not-so-modest goal of coining “a new political currency based on voter-to-voter connections.”

Launched last September, the website lets users see which of their contacts from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are registered to vote, where, and with which party, as well as when they’ve voted in the past. So a Mitt Romney supporter who discovers that his old high school pals are now registered in a swing state could send them a plug for the candidate with the hope that like-minded contacts will do the same with their friends. And so on and so forth until Election Day, when every Votizen presumably goes to the polls, creating, as Binetti describes it, “a world where the size of your network matters a lot more than the size of your checkbook.”