On behalf of the team at here at the Northwest Progressive Institute, I’m pleased to announce this evening that we have launched BallotGuide.info, 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. BallotGuide.info 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 The language of the advisory vote questions is dictated by Tim Eyman’s Initiative 960, as are the answers (“Repealed” and “Maintained”).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.
BallotGuide.info 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 BallotGuide.info.
We encourage you to check out BallotGuide.info and share it with friends, family, and neighbors. Help others cast an informed vote in 2013.