NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

NPI launches, a microsite that demystifies ballot measures

On behalf of the team at here at the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, I’m pleased to announce this evening that we have launched, a new microsite designed to help pro­gres­sive vot­ers nav­i­gate the many mea­sures on the 2013 gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot in Wash­ing­ton State.

(Microsites, for those who don’t speak tech, are very small stand­alone web­sites that con­sist of either a sin­gle web page or a few web pages. is extreme­ly sim­ple — it is a sin­gle web page at its own domain).

Bal­lot­Guide was cre­at­ed to demys­ti­fy vot­ing on bal­lot mea­sures. Mea­sures are rep­re­sent­ed on the pieces of paper we do our vot­ing on as bal­lot titles (or bal­lot ques­tions, if you like). These bal­lot titles, typ­i­cal­ly writ­ten by the Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s office, are some­times lack­ing con­text or even devoid of context.

For exam­ple, Ini­tia­tive 517, which NPI’s Per­ma­nent Defense has been fight­ing for months, is a self-serv­ing Tim Eyman ini­tia­tive that vio­lates free speech rights and prop­er­ty rights. It’s opposed by a diverse coali­tion of busi­ness­es, labor unions, sports teams like the Sea­hawks and Sounders, pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions like NPI and con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions like the Main­stream Republicans.

But you would­n’t know that from read­ing Ini­tia­tive 517’s bal­lot title.

Sim­i­lar­ly, the back­sto­ry on the five “advi­so­ry votes” that are on our bal­lots below the two ini­tia­tives is miss­ing. The lan­guage of the advi­so­ry vote ques­tions is dic­tat­ed by Tim Eyman’s Ini­tia­tive 960, as are the answers (“Repealed” and “Main­tained”). The lan­guage is one-sided and large­ly with­out con­text. Nowhere is it explained that the advi­so­ry votes are non­bind­ing and mean­ing­less, or that the rev­enue increas­es in ques­tion were already passed by the Leg­is­la­ture as part of the state bud­get, or that the advi­so­ry votes are required by a Tim Eyman initiative. seeks to mit­i­gate this prob­lem by pro­vid­ing a marked-up exam­ple bal­lot. Over­laid notes on red text pro­vide use­ful con­text, while arrows point to the cor­rect ovals that a pro­gres­sive vot­er should fill in. To the right of the exam­ple bal­lot are NPI’s rec­om­men­da­tions, with even longer expla­na­tions and links to the rel­e­vant cam­paign web­sites (like Yes on 522 and No on I‑517).

At the bot­tom are links to addi­tion­al resources a pro­gres­sive vot­er can make use of while fill­ing out his or her bal­lot. We don’t endorse can­di­dates or do elec­tion­eer­ing for or against can­di­dates; we only cov­er con­tests for elect­ed office through our pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing The Advo­cate. But Fuse Wash­ing­ton main­tains a pro­gres­sive voter’s guide and the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has an endorse­ments find­er. We’ve includ­ed links to both of those tools on

We encour­age you to check out and share it with friends, fam­i­ly, and neigh­bors. Help oth­ers cast an informed vote in 2013.

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One Comment

  1. Great job, NPI! Thanks for help­ing edu­cate the vot­ers. What a cool idea… show peo­ple how to vote pro­gres­sive­ly, don’t just tell them. 

    # by Louanne Grogan :: October 22nd, 2013 at 11:17 PM
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