Next month, New York City’s education department will conduct what election officials are billing as the first exclusively online public election in the United States, reports the New York Times. The department is conducting an experiment in participatory democracy. Nearly a million public school parents will be able to cast advisory votes for members of their community education councils. The council members, who are unpaid, play a role in school rezoning, helping schools develop their budgets, and advising the department on the need for new schools. Parents can vote on a secure web site from home, work, or any place with internet access, 24 hours a day, from April 6 to 12. But if the past is any guide, it’s not clear how many parents will bother to vote, however convenient the process. School board elections have historically produced dismally low turnouts, and a number of critics have expressed skepticism that the latest campaign will galvanize voters…

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