Mainstream Education Foundation debuts new voter tool for local elections

Juliana Garcia - November 5, 2019 8:54 am
Local elections are being held today, Nov. 5, 2019, in Johnson County.

The MainStream Education Foundation recently released an online voter guide in an effort to inform Kansas voters ahead of local elections. Lindsay Behgam, voter engagement director of MainSteam Coalition, said one of the reasons people don’t vote is due to lack of information.

“We run across folks saying all the time, ‘I just don’t know how to find out who is on my ballot and what they stand for,’” Behgam said. “We’re hoping to break down some of that barrier.”

When MainStream launched its Voter to Voter project last year, the organization found it difficult to communicate where to find candidate information to 500 volunteers across 105 counties in Kansas, Behgam said. She said she reached out to Ballot Ready, a nonprofit in Chicago, about creating a comprehensive guide for the 2019 local elections. Now, the tool, called ksballot.org, is available statewide in cities of 5,000 or more people.

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With ksballot.org, users can put in their address to find out which races and the respective candidates will appear on their ballot. By clicking on a race and then a candidate, users can see where candidates stand on policies and who has endorsed the candidates. Users can access a candidate’s social media profiles or website by clicking on the links below their name.

Additionally, voters can make a plan on when, where and how they are going to vote with the ‘Make a Plan to Vote’ function. To use this function, voters can click on the ‘find a polling station’ button in the top right corner.

Behgam said ksballot.org uses a content aggregator to pull information, rather than rely on candidates to fill out a survey like other online voter guides. While the tool’s content is comprehensive and non-partisan, there will be expansion over the years, she said.

“I am really happy to have a one-stop shop for your election needs,” Behgam said. “There’s a lot of good content there now, and we have plans to integrate additional, non-partisan content in the next couple of years.”

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