Deciding on Ballot Initiatives Before Election Day

| 10/29/2008 3:55:12 PM

This November 4, voters aren’t just deciding which candidates to elect. People will also vote on ballot initiatives, many of which have far-reaching repercussions. In California, for instance, voters choose whether to pass Proposition 8, an amendment that “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.” Unfortunately, in the media hype surrounding individual candidates, people tend to be woefully under-informed about ballot measures.

The website TransparentDemocracy is trying to change that, allowing netizens a sneak peak at their ballots before they enter the voting booth. Outside organizations are also encouraged to register their opinions on ballot measures, allowing voters to see who supports which initiatives.

The site is currently in its beta form, so there are still a lot of bugs to be worked out. And some of the ballots on the site were misleading. On the Minnesota ballot, for example, the amendment called “Clean Water, Wildlife, Cultural Heritage, and Natural Areas,” also known as Vote Yes, was simply called “Sales Tax Increase.”

Glitches aside, the idea of giving voters a place where they can easily view their ballots before they enter the booth seems laudable. Rather than forcing people to form an opinion on ballot initiatives while standing inside the voting booth, TransparentDemocracy could help create a more informed electorate.

Evan Ravitz
10/29/2008 5:35:02 PM

Voters on initiatives need what legislators get: public hearings, expert testimony, amendments, reports, etc., but independent of the legislature, as all branches of government work independently. The best project for such deliberative process is the National Initiative for Democracy, led by former Sen. Mike Gravel: Also and

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