Tech tools help deepen citizen input in drafting laws abroad and in U.S. states

Taiwan, Brazil and also New Jersey are using technology to bring greater citizen input into lawmaking

Earlier this month, New Jersey’s Department of Education launched a citizen engagement process asking students, teachers and parents to vote on ideas for changes that officials should consider as the state reopens its schools after the pandemic closed classrooms for a year. 

The project, managed by The Governance Lab (The GovLab) at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, is part of a month-long nationwide effort using an online survey tool called All Our Ideas to help state education officials prioritize policymaking based on ideas solicited from those who are directly affected by the policies.

“There are people who now have access and want to be ‘in the room where it happens’ and who don’t want other people to have access,” said Beth Simone Noveck, director of the Governance Lab, which advocates using tech tools to broaden the democratic process around the world. 

“That’s why it’s important to create multiplicity of avenues for participation,” so average citizens who are directly affected by rules and laws can have an equal footing with the powerful, she said.