Smart Voter and Voter’s Edge Launch Comprehensive Nonpartisan Online Voter Guide for California Vote

Personalized Ballot Look-Up Feature Allows Voters to Mark Selections and Share Ballot Choices Via Social Media

October 8, 2014 - MapLight and the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund are pleased to announce the launch of Voter's Edge, a comprehensive nonpartisan online voting guide to the California elections.

The project uniquely combines MapLight's expertise using technology to track public information with the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund's authoritative coverage of election contests through its premiere website, SmartVoter.org.

  

    

Embed code for ballot look-up Widget shown above: 

<p><iframe src="http://votersedge.org/?p=california" width="450" height="400"></iframe></p>

Users simply type in their home address and can immediately view their personalized ballot, supplemented by helpful information such as endorsements, funding sources, news coverage, editorials, candidate biographies, and more. Information that would normally require extensive time and research to obtain is cumulated and made readily available to the public all in one place, and can even be embedded as Widget on websites and blogs.

"Voters need a fair and trusted source for election information, and our pilot partnership with Smart Voter & Voter's Edge provides that in a single easy-to-navigate website," said Melissa Breach, League of Women Voters of California Education Fund's Executive Director. "This November, California Voter's Edge is being powered by grassroots volunteers and powerful technology -- working together to inform and engage Californians on Election Day."

"Voter's Edge gives you, the voter, the edge against all the biased, negative advertising," said Daniel G. Newman, Co-Founder and President of MapLight. "It's the quick, easy way to get the facts before you vote."   

  

Newly launched Voter's Edge is one-stop info resource for voters
Daniel G. Newman, MapLight Co-Founder and President
"Where are the tools that let citizens have more control of government?"  

Voter's Edge is transforming civic engagement not only by empowering the electorate but by working to increase it as well. In the 2012 midterm election, less than 56% of all eligible California voters and less than 44% of young adults aged 18-29 showed up at the polls (McDonald, 2012)(File, 2014). Citizens who are encouraged to vote by nonprofit organizations, however, are not only more likely to vote themselves but are more inclined to encourage others to do the same, thereby exponentially amplifying voter turnout (LeRoux, 2011).

This is why with support from California Forward, Voter's Edge now includes innovative features that allow voters to share their ballot selections through social media, email, or by hard-copy.   

"California's millennials are an essential voice that must be heard if we want elected officials to be thinking about the future," said James Mayer, CEO of California Forward. "We are honored to be working with MapLight and the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund to connect millennials to the information that can make them confident voters and to learn how to connect even better with young voters in future elections."

"The sharing feature was designed to encourage thoughtful discussion about the candidates and issues in the upcoming election, making participation more public and increasing interest in the election," explains Newman. "Whether conversation is fostered amongst a larger audience on social networks or contained within smaller environments via email or print, the sharing features are designed to enhance debate surrounding public policy issues, especially among youth and communities of color, by promoting dialogue through modern channels of communication. We appreciate the support of California Forward in helping us develop this feature."

A Voter's Edge API is now available for developers to customize and build their own web applications. Please click the API link for more information.

Voter's Edge Funders:

The Voter's Edge project was made possible by generous support from the James Irvine Foundation, the Kaphan Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, the Tides Foundation Civic Innovation Fund, the Hewlett Foundation as well as the generous support of individual MapLight and League of Women Voters of California Education Fund's Smart Voter donors.

About the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund: 

About California Forward: California Forward is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to bring government closer to the people and move the state in the right direction - forward. We believe empowered local communities are best equipped to solve their own problems, and there is a critical link between many of the problems that threaten our future and our state government, which has become ineffective, unresponsive, and unable to fix itself.

About MapLight: MapLight is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan research organization that tracks money's influence in politics in the U.S. Congress and the California and Wisconsin state legislatures. We provide journalists and citizens with database tools that connect data on campaign contributions, lobbying, personal financial disclosures for members of Congress, legislative votes, industries, companies, interest group bill positions, politicians, and more. A list of MapLight funders can be found here

About Voter's Edge:
MapLight and the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund are joint partners for Voter's Edge in California. Outside of California Voter's Edge is a project of MapLight and will launch in all 50 states prior to the general election. 

Media Contacts:

Elizabeth Leslie (League of Women Voters CA Education Fund)

c: 916-842-7737 | e: eleslie@lwvc.org │t: @cavotes

Pamela Behrsin (MapLight)

c: 415-299-0898 | e: pamela@maplight.org | t: @maplight

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