Twelve League members attended the May 9th meeting of the Phoenix Community Team, held at the Terraces in Phoenix. The two guests speakers were Alec Schaffer and Stephanie Cooper of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. The focus was on the ever expanding and improving voter education program administered by the Commission.
And before you read any further, please log into the website/link below, look around, then enter your address and get a lotta information (with more to come as more candidates file their petitions) about who YOU are eligible to vote for. Then under Elections, go to Voting Informed and then check out: Dashboard, Candidate Debates AND Compass. As the old saying goes, a ‘picture/or in this case seeing the actual stuff I’m going to write about, is worth a 1,000 words (and I hope to keep it under that).
Highlights of the presentation were:
FOCUS GROUPS: The Commission convened focus groups to get more information about what motivates people to register and vote (or not register/not vote) and in different elections. When it came to local elections (almost anything other than presidential, with the lower on the ballot the more so), participation is low because people said they had a hard time getting information about the candidates and most were not that motivated to actually find the information!! Participants did indicate an ‘emotional’ connection to voting, which is why they liked getting “I voted” stickers. Participants also said that the Voter Guide was too BIG and so many threw it away. As a result, the 2017 Voters Guide was ‘district specific,’ showing all statewide candidates and then ONLY those for YOUR district; and the cover is being redesigned for 2018!!
*NOTE - By l law, the Voters Guide can NOT contain information about candidates other than those running in state elections. However, on the web site the Commission hopes to start putting up much more information about candidates all the way ‘down ballot’ this year.
2017 Elections: The Commission was very busy as there were 4 different local elections in different parts of the state and the Commission website, media buys of all kinds and social media displayed information about deadlines for registration, vote by mail deadlines, voting locations with all social media having a consistent logo and using digital ads to include something called a ‘chatbot’....using AI (I actually know what that means, i.e.,. artificial intelligence tho I have never used a Chatbo!!)
National Voter Registration Day: The Commission participated in the 2017 Voter Registration Day by appearing on the ASU campus and registering 43 new people plus showing many others how to register and the web site. National Voter Registration day in 2018 is September 25!!!
Roundtable: This was held in 2017; League along with County Recorders, some City staff and non profits attended, which resulted in the development of closer ties between the Commission and all these entities. Most counties and cities that conduct their own elections do NOT have sufficient funds to conduct much in the way of voter outreach/voter education and thus work very closely with the Commission.
Visuals: We saw some that use an arrow to ‘tie’ different elements of the voting process together, i.e., registration, candidates/issues, voting locations and the voter!!
Civics 101 & the Morrison Institute: The Commission will be working with the Morrison Institute that is developing a Civic 101 program to provide more information about each elected office to include at the local level.
*NOTE - Gloria Olsen thought this would be a perfect fit with the LWVMP’s new focus on county government; and I just left a message/sent a question to the Institute to try to get more information about such.
“18 in 18” Campaign: This was launched earlier this year with an interactive mural positioned in a prominent place in downtown Phoenix, and will be displayed at many “First Friday” events (evenings in the ‘arts district’ of downtown Phoenix that attract a lot people who go into galleries, eat, drink, mingle etc., with of course, the ASU downtown campus in the heart of the area.)
Candidate Debates: The Commission will once again host debates for both Clean/participating and traditional candidates in every district for both the primary and general elections The dates for the primary are already listed. There will be an experiment in the Tucson area, where one of the Commissioners has worked with two high schools that will not only host the debates but will also involve their civics, government, journalism classes, debate teams etc. The web site also has an evite so as it gets closer to the date of each debate, everyone can see which candidates are attending, which often spurs others to attend!
2018 Voter Guide: Work on this has already begun in terms of layout/visuals, questionnaires are going out to candidates as they file and the publication will appear in July. They will again be ‘district specific.’
Independents: The Commission will do special outreach to Independents who CAN participate in primaries but have to either let the County Recorder know which ballot to send OR go to the polls.
The Compass: This is a way in which a voter can determine how close candidates are to their own views, i.e., the link asks the voter about where they stand on 5-8 major issues, in a Yes/No format. They can then see how each of the candidates responded to those same questions, along with room for some short comments/an explanation.