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When residents want to know what members of their community think about their local candidate for school board, Chicago-Kent College of Law and a group of investors are hopeful their first step will be to go to the mall, or more specifically, to ElectionMall.com. There, citizens will be able to do everything they could possibly want to do during campaign season, from learning the do’s and don’ts of contributing to political campaigns under local and federal law to creating personal bumper stickers for their cars. Launched earlier this month, ElectionMall.com remains under construction. But Professor Harold Krent, who teaches administrative and constitutional law at Kent, said he is excited about the prospects of the site, mostly because he is sure the technology of the Internet will fundamentally change politics in the United States. “Every time there’s a technological breakthrough in the media, there is an impact on elections,” Krent said, referring to the importance of endorsements that came with the success of large urban dailies, televised debates and later, advertising on radio and TV. “Change is going to come through the Internet now,” he said. “What this site does is give a structure and a glimmer of what future elections are going to be like.” And for Krent, the Internet will be a tool for greater activism and, eventually, cheaper campaigns. “This enables individuals to participate more directly in the election and to influence the election more directly than the other media,” he said. Created by Ravi Singh, his brother Simer Singh, and funded by telecommunications entrepreneur Chirinjeev Kathuria, ElectionMall.com is built around the premise that an audience of politically active citizens can be assembled and linked interactively with each other. ElectionMall.com surfers not only will be able to contribute online, they will be able to fundraise and share opinions. The launch, on July 5th, was timed so that components of the site would be available by the upcoming elections this November. But Krent said it’s too early to say how much of the site will be in use by then, particularly since Chicago-Kent’s participation with its Election-e-law.com component relies on student participation. Still, Krent said ElectionMall.com “Is a step in the future toward greater citizen involvement” giving the process “more of a town meeting feeling.” “I think that’s great for politics,” he said.

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