By Stephen Downes

Snagvotes began just two days before the August 2010 Federal election when a few connected individuals on social media (Twitter and Facebook) realised how important a part of the election day experience eating a sausage before or after voting has become for many Australians.

Schools and community groups – including parents’ clubs, dance schools, sporting clubs, church auxiliaries – whose facilities are used for polling booths often take advantage of the occasion to raise funds for their activities.

With a view to acknowledging this community spirit and having some fun, we created the Twitter hashtag #snagvotes and a Twitter account @snagvotes and began a short campaign to have people tweet details of locations of sausage sizzles in their electorates and to post pictures of their sausage sizzle experience. We were joined by an IT consultant, Dr Grant Castner, who rapidly created a Google Maps-linked application so that users could actually plot and check the locations of their nearest sausage sizzles. Grant's idea was sparked by a friend, Dr Debra Da Silva, lamenting the lack of information about local election sausage sizzles.

All of our work on Snagvotes is pro bono and at our own cost. The name “snagvotes” actually came from Rosemary Walton, who’s a vegan!!!

Incentive House came on board on the day and provided a stored-value Reward Yourself card as a prize for the best sausage sizzle-related photograph posted with the #snagvotes hashtag. Between 70 and 100 such pictures were posted.

Our hastily-organised “grass roots” campaign was surprisingly successful, with hundreds of mentions of the #snagvotes hashtag on Twitter and mainstream media coverage on radio and on the Ten Network’s “7PM Project” (see attached screenshot).

For the Victorian election on Saturday 27 November 2010, we have revived the #snagvotes hashtag and created a Snagvotes group on Facebook:

We are once again encouraging people to post photographs of their sausage sizzle experience. And people have already posted details of dozens of sausage sizzles on the Snagvotes map:

While there is some fun and a bit of silliness in the Snagvotes idea, the underlying objective is clearly to celebrate our democracy, encourage participation in the democratic process and offer support for the community groups and volunteers that run sausage sizzles and stalls on election day, as it is an important means of fundraising for them. The message is “Get together with your community and enjoy a sausage on election day – a great Australian tradition”.