Using the Mechanical Turk to validate petition signatures

Jeff sez:

To qualify our initiative for the ballot in Seattle, we need the signatures of more than 20,600 registered city voters. This means we're going to have approximately 2,000 – 3,000 pages of handwritten petition forms.

We wrote two Mechanical Turk tasks to digitally capture the names, addresses and emails of petition signers and then to have workers verify what percentage of the signers are actually registered to vote in Seattle (as only these voters count towards our ballot qualification requirements).

Paying anonymous Internet-based Mechanical Turk workers does raise some murky questions related to outsourcing vs. local employment. And, since our Initiative is aimed at re-establishing democracy and social justice, we are sensitive to this. Thus far, we've just experimented with the Turk system. We're not sure yet if we'll use it in whole. And, if we do, we're going to be very thoughtful about how much we pay for each task.

Jeff's project is "initiative 103":

Initiative 103 will change the law in Seattle to:
* Ban corporate spending on elections, reversing Citizens United
* Ban corporate lobbying except in public forums
* Strip Corporate Personhood and judge-made corporate "Constitutional" rights

Using Mechanical Turk to Digitize Handwritten Petition Forms and Validate Voter Registrations