Ballotpedia
Type of businessNonprofit
Type of site
Wiki
Available inEnglish
HeadquartersMiddleton, Wisconsin, U.S.
OwnerLucy Burns Institute
URLballotpedia.org
CommercialNo
LaunchedMay 30, 2007; 16 years ago (2007-05-30)[1]
Current statusActive

Ballotpedia is a nonprofit and nonpartisan online political encyclopedia that covers federal, state, and local politics, elections, and public policy in the United States.[2][3][4][5] The website was founded in 2007.[6][7] Ballotpedia is sponsored by the Lucy Burns Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Middleton, Wisconsin. Originally a collaboratively edited wiki, Ballotpedia is now written and edited entirely by a paid professional staff. As of 2014, Ballotpedia employed 34 writers and researchers;[8] it reported an editorial staff of over 50 in 2021.[9]

Mission

Ballotpedia's stated goal is "to inform people about politics by providing accurate and objective information about politics at all levels of government."[9] The website "provides information on initiative supporters and opponents, financial reports, litigation news, status updates, poll numbers, and more."[10] It originally was a "community-contributed web site, modeled after Wikipedia" which is now edited by paid staff. It "contains volumes of information about initiatives, referenda, and recalls."[11]

Parent organization

Ballotpedia is sponsored by the Lucy Burns Institute (LBI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan[12][13] educational organization.[14][15][16] The organization reported revenue of $5.37 million in 2019.[17]

LBI was founded in December 2006 by the group's current president, Leslie Graves.[18][19][20] The group is named after Lucy Burns, co-founder of the National Woman's Party.[21] The group is headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin.

History

Ballotpedia was founded by the Citizens in Charge Foundation in 2007.[22] Ballotpedia was sponsored by the Sam Adams Alliance in 2008, along with Judgepedia and Sunshine Review. In 2009, their sponsorship was transferred to the nonprofit Lucy Burns Institute, based in Middleton, Wisconsin.[22][23]

On July 9, 2013, Sunshine Review was acquired by the Lucy Burns Institute and merged into Ballotpedia.[24] The Lucy Burns Institute is named after suffragist Lucy Burns who along with Alice Paul founded the National Woman's Party. Judgepedia was merged into Ballotpedia in March 2015.

When actress Regina King won an Emmy at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards in 2020, during her acceptance speech she encouraged people to use Ballotpedia to prepare for the upcoming election.[25][26]

Judgepedia

Judgepedia was an online wiki-style encyclopedia covering the American legal system.[21][27] In 2015, all content from Judgepedia was merged into Ballotpedia.[28][29] It included a database of information on state and federal courts and judges.[30][31][32]

According to its original website, the goal of Judgepedia was "to help readers discover and learn useful information about the court systems and judiciary in the United States."[18]

Judgepedia was sponsored by the Sam Adams Alliance in 2007, along with Ballotpedia and Sunshine Review.[33] In 2009, sponsorship of Judgepedia was transferred to the Lucy Burns Institute, which merged Judgepedia into Ballotpedia in March 2015.[18]

Judgepedia had a weekly publication titled Federal Courts, Empty Benches which tracked the vacancy rate for Article III federal judicial posts.[34]

The Orange County Register noted Judgepedia's coverage of Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court.[35]

Judgepedia's profile of Elena Kagan was included in the Harvard Law School Library's guide to Kagan's Supreme Court nomination and the Law Library of Congress's guide to Kagan.[36][37]

Partnerships

In May 2018, in response to scrutiny over the misuse of Twitter by those seeking to maliciously influence elections, Twitter announced that it would partner with Ballotpedia to add special labels verifying the authenticity of political candidates running for election in the U.S.[38][39]

During the 2018 United States elections, Ballotpedia supplied Amazon Alexa with information on polling place locations and political candidates.[40]

In 2018, Ballotpedia, ABC News, and FiveThirtyEight collected and analyzed data on candidates in Democratic Party primaries in order to determine which types of candidates Democratic primary voters were gravitating towards.[41]

Studies

In 2012, Ballotpedia authored a study analyzing the quality of official state voter guides based on six criteria. According to the study, only nine states were rated "excellent" or "very good", while 24 states received a "fair" or "poor" rating.[12]

In May 2014, the Center for American Progress used Ballotpedia data to analyze the immigration policy stances of Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives.[42]

Ballotpedia has highlighted the complex language used in various U.S. ballot measures. In 2017, with a sample of 27 issues from nine states, the group determined that, on average, ballot descriptions required a graduate-level education to understand the complex wording of issues, with the average American adult only reading at a 7th to 8th grade reading level. A Georgia State University analysis of 1,200 ballot measures over a decade showed that voters were more likely to skip complex issues altogether.[43] Some ballot language confuses potential voters with the use of double negatives. Several states require plain-language explanations of ballot wording.[44]

In 2015, Harvard University visiting scholar Carl Klarner conducted a study for Ballotpedia which found that state legislative elections have become less competitive over time, with 2014's elections being the least competitive elections in the past 40 years.[45]

Ballotpedia found that in 2020, fewer state legislative incumbents lost general election seats than in any other year in the previous decade, although incumbents were more vulnerable in primary elections in any year since 2012.[46]

A study by Ballotpedia indicated that 2022 midterm elections for congressional districts were demographically divided by income. Democrats typically won higher income households, while lower income, working class districts favored Republican candidates.[47]

In 2023, the New York Times used Ballotpedia as a source for its presidential campaign graph analysis.[48]

References

  1. ^ "BallotPedia.org WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info – DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  2. ^ Chokshi, Niraj (September 9, 2014). "Tuesday is the last day of the state legislative primary season". Washington Post. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  3. ^ Wisniewski, Mary; Hendee, David (January 24, 2011). "Omaha mayoral recall vote part of angry voter trend". Reuters. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  4. ^ Dewan, Shaila (November 5, 2014). "Higher Minimum Wage Passes in 4 States; Florida Defeats Marijuana Measure". The New York Times. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  5. ^ Morones, Alyssa (August 22, 2013). "Ballotpedia Launches 'Wikipedia' for School Board Elections". Education Week. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  6. ^ Chokshi, Niraj (November 5, 2018). "Voter Guide: How, When and Where to Vote on Tuesday". The New York Times. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  7. ^ Levine, Andrew (October 29, 2018). "New York Today: Why Don't We Have Early Voting?". The New York Times. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  8. ^ Darnay, Keith (November 3, 2014). "Find election info at the last minute". Bismarck Tribune. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Ballotpedia:About". Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  10. ^ Davis, Gene (August 6, 2008). "Denver's got issues: Ballot issues & you can learn more at Ballotpedia.com". Denver Daily News. Denver. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  11. ^ Lawrence, David G. (2009). California: The Politics of Diversity. Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-495-57097-4.
  12. ^ a b Scott, Dylan (September 14, 2012). "States Have Room for Improvement in Voter Guides". Governing Magazine. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  13. ^ Mahtesian, Charles (October 16, 2012). "The best races you've never heard of". Politico. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  14. ^ Povich, Elaine (June 10, 2014). "Lawmakers Defer to Voters on Tax, Budget Issues". Stateline. The Pew Charitable Trusts. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  15. ^ "Illinois elections officials need to side with voters". Chicago Tribune. May 30, 2014. Archived from the original on May 30, 2014. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  16. ^ Christensen, Lance (July 22, 2014). "Lucy Burns Institute Launches Policypedia". Reason Foundation. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  17. ^ "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax". GuideStar. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  18. ^ a b c "Judgepedia:About". Judgepedia. Lucy Burns Institute. Archived from the original on June 25, 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  19. ^ Mildenberg, David (February 8, 2012). "El Paso Mayor Fighting Ouster on Gay Rights Vote Counts Rising Legal Bill". Bloomberg. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  20. ^ Murphy, Bruce (June 12, 2014). "The mystery of Eric O'Keefe". Isthmus. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  21. ^ a b "Nonprofit Group Offers Free Judicial Profiles Online at Judgepedia.com". Metropolitan News-Enterprise. December 21, 2009. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  22. ^ a b Hoover, Steven (April 10, 2017). "Ballotpedia Internet Review". Association of College & Research Libraries. American Library Association. doi:10.5860/crln.74.10.9031. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  23. ^ Spillman, Benjamin (July 29, 2013). "Cost to appeal Las Vegas Planning Commission decision called prohibitive". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  24. ^ "About Sunshine Review on Ballotpedia". July 9, 2013.
  25. ^ Salam, Maya (September 21, 2020). "This Year's Emmy Winners Want You to Vote". The New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  26. ^ Noveck, Jocelyn (September 21, 2020). "The 'Pandemmys' were weird and sometimes wonderful". Washington Post. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  27. ^ Ambrogi, Robert (October 2010). "Crowdsourcing the Law: Trends and Other Innovations". Oregon State Bar Bulletin. Oregon State Bar. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  28. ^ Pallay, Geoff. "Ballotpedia to absorb Judgepedia". Ballotpedia. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  29. ^ Mahtesian, Charles (October 16, 2012). "The best races you've never heard of". Politico. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  30. ^ Peoples, Lee (November 6, 2010). "The Lawyer's Guide to Using and Citing Wikipedia" (PDF). Oklahoma Bar Journal. 81: 2438. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  31. ^ Davey, Chris; Salaz, Karen (November–December 2010). "Survey Looks at New Media and the Court". Journal of the American Judicature Society. 94 (3).
  32. ^ Meckler, Mark (2012). Tea Party Patriots: The Second American Revolution. Macmillan. p. 167. ISBN 978-0805094374.
  33. ^ Phillips, Kate (July 19, 2008). "The Sam Adams Project". The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  34. ^ "Pennsylvania and Wisconsin Have Federal Courts with Highest Vacancy Rates; across Country, 9.9% of Federal Judicial Posts Are Vacant". Telecommunications Weekly. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  35. ^ Seiler, John (October 22, 2010). "John Seiler: Appellate judges aplenty on ballot". Orange County Register. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  36. ^ "Guide to the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court of the United States". Harvard Law School Library. Harvard Law School. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  37. ^ "Elena Kagan". Law Library of Congress. Library of Congress. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  38. ^ "Twitter to add labels to U.S. political candidates". CBS. May 23, 2018. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  39. ^ Scola, Nancy (May 23, 2018). "Twitter to verify election candidates in the midterms". Politico. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  40. ^ Malone Kircher, Madison (November 2, 2018). "Hey, Alexa, Who Is Winning the Election in New York?". New York Magazine. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  41. ^ Conroy, Meredith; Nguyen, Mai; Rakich, Nathaniel (August 10, 2018). "We Researched Hundreds Of Races. Here's Who Democrats Are Nominating". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  42. ^ Fernandez, Henry; Wolgin, Philip (May 19, 2014). "House Republicans Have Nothing to Fear from Supporting Immigration Reform". Center for American Progress. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  43. ^ Wogan, J.B. (November 6, 2017). "Unless You Went to Grad School, You Probably Won't Understand What's on Your Ballot". Governing. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  44. ^ Collins, Steve (November 16, 2017). "Study: Maine ballot questions too confusing even for college graduates". Lewiston Sun Journal. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  45. ^ Wilson, Reid (May 7, 2015). "Study: State elections becoming less competitive". Washington Post. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  46. ^ Epstein, Reid J. (February 23, 2021). "2020 was the safest year for state legislative incumbents in a decade, a study finds". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  47. ^ Allen, Mike (April 17, 2023). "Record number of Americans say they're politically independent". Axios. Retrieved May 4, 2023.
  48. ^ Gómez, Martín González; Astor, Maggie (February 22, 2023). "Who's Running for President in 2024?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 22, 2023.