With 40 items on Seattle’s Nov. 8 ballot, few would blame voters for leaving some bubbles blank — who has time to follow Superior Court races and House advisory votes?! — or for simply cribbing off of the editorial board at The Stranger or The Seattle Times, though it can be an often less-than-satisfying solution.
Luckily, if you’re a voter in King County — which includes Seattle, Bellevue and Kent — the Municipal League feels your pain and has responded with a new, easy-to-use solution.
ReadySetVote.org allows King County voters to enter their street address to generate a ballot with their specific candidates and initiatives. Voters can then select from 11 news, political, community and special-interest organizations that have made endorsements for the election. The site displays each race and which candidate or position each group endorsed, including links to the candidates’ websites and articles explaining the endorsements.
Voters can scroll through the ballot, clicking on the “pick” button below the candidate of their choice, and when finished create their own cheat sheet. The selections are confidential and the site doesn’t aggregate voters’ picks, but there are links for sharing your ballot choices via social media — in case your friends and followers don’t already know your stance after these many longs months.
“This [election] has been a long slog, and people are ready for it to be over,” said Joseph Peha, chairman of Tech Committee for the Municipal League, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization.
“And the people who have used the site feel like they’ve been able to end the cycle on a positive note,” Peha said. “It made voting feel more accessible and they felt empowered.”
More than 3,000 voters have used the site so far, and the response has been positive, he said.
The goal of the site was to “bridge and fill that gap” between “voters who are hungry for just the right amount of information to make a decision, and organizations who have it and often have a hard time getting it out,” Peha said.
Other voting sites might have more detail but the appeal of ReadySetVote is its simplicity — with links to more information if voters want it.
This is the first election that the ReadySetVote tool has been available, and voters can read it in English, Spanish or Chinese. There are conversations about adding Vietnamese and other languages in future elections, said Alejandra Tres, executive director of the Municipal League.
The 106-year-old Municipal League has as its goal “to better connect people to their government,” Tres said. “This is a natural extension of that effort.”
Voters outside of King County have asked that the tool be expanded more broadly, but it’s not yet clear how that might happen.
The organization had talked for a few years about building a voting tool, and everyone agreed that the presidential election was the prime time to launch it. It took about five months to create, said Peha, who led the effort.
The project received donations and tech support from local businesses and individuals, including the Seattle Seahawks, Dick’s Drive-In and Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream. Community organizations such as the Latino Community Fund and Asian Counseling and Referral Service also played a role.
The Municipal League might add other features in coming elections, including links to explanations of what each elected office does, and the ability to save and edit election picks.