The Living Voters Guide, recent winner of the Evergreen Apps Challenge, has released its 2012 update that allows Washington state voters to learn about different ballot measures, compare the pros and cons of each and sound off with fellow contributors.

And if there’s a particular fact in question, they can call on the expertise of a librarian.

The online tool was developed by researchers at the University of Washington. Here’s how it works: The homepage features eight clickable ballots and each will take you to individual pages with pertinent information, a fiscal impact statement and a link to the official voters guide from the Secretary of State.

After learning about a particular issue, you can scroll down the page to create an individualized pro/con list. Users can drag virtual post-it notes written by contributors to a list – those you agree with go under “pros,” and the ones you dislike under “cons.” If you want to include your own opinion, just summarize your point in fewer than 140 characters, add details and submit it to the pot.

A results page breaks down the data with a bar graph and ranks the pros/cons based on popularity, most unifying and most divisive.

The LVG partnered with Seattle’s CityClub three years ago to create this project. About 20,000 people used the tool last year and more are expected this election season, especially with a new fact-checking feature introduced this month.

Users can now double-click on post-it notes and “ask a librarian to fact check this point.” Librarians from the Seattle Public Library will respond within 48 hours and spend up to two hours researching your question, so long as it is meets their criteria.

I love the fact-checking aspect and it’s something that the presidential debates, for example, could really benefit from. Imagine live fact-checks from librarians popping up on the bottom of your television after claims from Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. That would help educate voters and also force the candidates to be on their game even more so, don’t you think?

Comments

  • Mike Mathieu

    The beauty of Living Voters Guide is that it forces you to reflect on your own motivations and opinions and describe them in a clear way, rather than ranting about someone else. On LVG no one says “The reason I believe in [ISSUE] is because you’re an idiot if you disagree.” You can’t say the same thing about blog comments.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Learn2Luv2NoLimit Kevin Thomas

      Nicely put… :-)

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