First draft of the Voters Information Guide

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 25, 2004

Update: The Voters Information Guide is finished. Thanks for all the help.

Ok, I spent most of Friday night knee deep in information on how to go about voting in the 2004 US election and have come up with a first draft of the Voters Information Guide (as initiated here). It’s unfinished with the barest of formatting, but I wanted to get feedback on it before I go any further. And keep in mind, this is more Voting for Dummies than it is an exhaustive FAQ.

What do you think? Too much information? Too little? Is it clear? Can someone find me a list of absentee ballot deadlines as good as the one on Michael Moore’s site but not on MM’s site? English majors and copy editors, help me smooth out the rough edges (with a focus on clarity, concision, and readability by someone who may not know what “absentee” means). Does anyone see any incorrect or misleading information? Leave your feedback in the thread or email me.

Eventually, translations and other versions (print, PDF, audio?, etc.) would be helpful to have, but wait on that until we’re nearing the final draft.

Reader comments

Donnie JeterSep 25, 2004 at 4:09PM

Hey Jason, looks great - I haven’t found any misleading information. Great job; looking forward to the final version.

MattSep 25, 2004 at 5:04PM

Does seem fairly complete for a quick and dirty voting guide. Who is the intended audience? That might shape the critique.

uncleSep 25, 2004 at 5:09PM

Look people: Before registering, check the voter registration deadlines for your state. Deadlines in some states are as soon as October 2nd, 2004.

LiversedgeSep 25, 2004 at 5:23PM

Maybe http://www.changethis.com/ could add this to the pipeline. Great resource for the casual voter…

lisaSep 25, 2004 at 6:44PM

This is specific to one state, but you may want to mention that in Oregon, everybody has to vote by mail … a lot of people here still don’t seem to know that! If you’re registered, you’ll automatically receive a ballot in the mail. They have to be postmarked by October 19. (Though i think you can hand-deliver them in some places.)

Rod HowardSep 25, 2004 at 6:53PM

What up Jason, I think it might be helpful to add a short section detailing the importance of voting and how one vote does make a difference. It would be kind of cool to see how the election would turn out if everyone voted. Especially the people who say their one vote wouldn’t make a difference and that’s the reason they didn’t vote.

Mike CSep 25, 2004 at 7:18PM

Maybe protesting the election and not voting will accomplish more of what you are trying to accomplish.


Jordan BrockSep 25, 2004 at 10:02PM

Top work.

One thing relating to my wife’s situation. We live in Australia, but she is still a US citizen. The one thing that we’ve had some trouble finding out if she is in fact eligble to vote. The only thing we could see is that you need to be a resident in order to get an absentee vote. Has anyone seen anything on this?

But as far as the guide goes, fantastic. Definitely something that needed to be done. It’s all quite strange to me, because voting in Australia is compulsory (a fine of about $100 if you don’t).

BobbySep 25, 2004 at 10:40PM

You’ve done a fine job so far. All it needs is a little CSS sexiness. I’m so happy to see how non-partisan it is.

GregSep 25, 2004 at 11:38PM

I second Rod Howard’s idea. Seems like every election I run into people who didn’t bother voting because they didn’t feel it would matter. Asshats.

I spent some time looking for a good link on this topic and came across this.

yafujifideSep 26, 2004 at 12:26AM

Great work! I’ll be sure to tell people about this when you’re done.

DougSep 26, 2004 at 2:52AM

Voting for Americans living overseas:
I think that would need to be done quickly, registration deadlines are coming up.

peioSep 26, 2004 at 11:19AM

As I am not american I am curious to know if the voter registration is absolute requirement for somebody to vote?
And what is the importance of declaring yourself as one party supportter?

Questions just out of curiousity wich might be usefull to make some poits more clear.

DougSep 26, 2004 at 12:27PM

Yes, voter registration is an absolute requirement to vote in every state. Generally, states require registration a month or so in advance (which is pretty soon). I believe, I could be wrong, there is a state or two allowing for registration on election day.

Not all states (in my state, Texas, for example) offer declaration of party support/membership. Good question, what is the importance of that?

alexSep 26, 2004 at 12:47PM

http://www.hss.cmu.edu/registertovote/main.htm has a considerable amount of information regarding specific voting practices in each state, it might be useful to add that or copy some of its information.

JulieSep 26, 2004 at 1:52PM

Perhaps a note stressing the importance of educating yourself before voting? Nothing like getting people to vote when they don’t even know the candidates and their platforms.

GregSep 26, 2004 at 3:56PM

Declaring a party affiliation does two things: it allows you to vote in party primaries and it adds your name to their mailing lists.

John GraySep 26, 2004 at 5:04PM

Excellent work. I think the links at the end are a better use of the space than some of the extras suggested here (like why you should or shouldn’t vote). Haven’t seen anything like MM’s deadline table, unfortunately. I agree with Alex that http://www.hss.cmu.edu/registertovote/main.htm should be added to the links.

Thanks for devoting what must be a very significant amount of time and effort to this.

Chris BurkhardtSep 26, 2004 at 9:02PM

I’ve found Project Vote Smart (you’ve already got it linked, cool) to be a good resource while investigating candidates’ policy on issues. Reading the National Political Awareness Test answers for each candidate gives a good idea on where they stand on just about everything.

That’s a nice little introduction to voting. I’m both practicing and preaching abstinence, but voting well is the next best thing. It’s nice to have a guide to point people to. Thanks.

John ZeratskySep 27, 2004 at 1:09AM

The final version has been linked, with a quick button I threw together. Feel free to grab it for your site.

Treovr FilterSep 27, 2004 at 2:38AM

Comments aren’t open on the final version’s post, so:

I’ve compressed the final draft to two pages (as one page would mean 6pt font and other measures) and created a pdf. Links are referenced to the bottom of the document, and some other readability measures were made. I also pushed the central content of the guide into a two-column layout, and cleaned up some other pieces.

For the most part, it looks identical to the online version (as it should). But enough explaining… take a look for yourself.

cb/CityRagSep 27, 2004 at 7:38PM

the guide is GREAT. I’ll be linking to it each week until the election from my site. your postings last week inspired me to tackle the hardest sell of all this weekend - my Mom. and she just called to tell me she thought about it and is voting for Kerry! we really CAN make a difference.

joelSep 28, 2004 at 5:14PM

engadget has a small piece up right now on how polling companies might be missing out on the population of people who do not own landlines. The landline owners being the only people who these polling agents contact for their numbers.

could that 3% make a difference?


This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.