|Type of business||Nonprofit|
Type of site
|Headquarters||Middleton, Wisconsin, U.S.|
|Owner||Lucy Burns Institute|
|Launched||May 30, 2007|
Ballotpedia is a nonprofit and nonpartisan online political encyclopedia that covers American federal, state, and local politics, elections, and public policy. Written by a staff of researchers and writers, the website was founded in 2007. Ballotpedia is sponsored by the Lucy Burns Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Middleton, Wisconsin. As of 2014, Ballotpedia employed 34 writers and researchers; it reported an editorial staff of over 50 in 2018.
Ballotpedia's stated goal is "to inform people about politics by providing accurate and objective information about politics at all levels of government." The website "provides information on initiative supporters and opponents, financial reports, litigation news, status updates, poll numbers, and more." 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."
Ballotpedia was founded by the Citizens in Charge Foundation in 2007. 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.
On July 9, 2013, Sunshine Review was acquired by the Lucy Burns Institute and merged into Ballotpedia. 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.
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.
Judgepedia was an online wiki-style encyclopedia covering the American legal system. In 2015, all content from Judgepedia was merged into Ballotpedia. It included a database of information on state and federal courts and judges.
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."
Judgepedia was sponsored by the Sam Adams Alliance in 2007, along with Ballotpedia and Sunshine Review. In 2009, sponsorship of Judgepedia was transferred to the Lucy Burns Institute, which merged Judgepedia into Ballotpedia in March 2015.
Judgepedia had a weekly publication titled Federal Courts, Empty Benches which tracked the vacancy rate for Article III federal judicial posts.
The Orange County Register noted Judgepedia's coverage of Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Reception and studies
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.
Ballotpedia has helped spotlight the unnecessarily 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 1200 ballot measures over a decade showed that voters were more likely to skip complex issues altogether. Further, some ballot language confuses potential voters with the use of double negatives. A few states require plain-language explanations of ballot wording.
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.
Judgepedia has also been cited in The Washington Post and its Volokh Conspiracy blog, in The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog, and in The New York Times' "The Caucus" politics blog. The Orange County Register noted Judgepedia's coverage of Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
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