As California Prepares to Vote, Lesser-Known Ballot Measures Garner Voters’ Attention

Bret Hendry | November 04, 2016

Berkeley, CA - A preliminary analysis of website traffic to the comprehensive online voter guide Voter’s Edge California reveals that some of the most high-profile propositions on the statewide ballot are garnering less attention from users of Voter’s Edge California than ballot measures largely outside the public spotlight.

An analysis of Voter’s Edge site traffic throughout October showed the three ballot measures to receive the most attention from users dealt with hospital fees (Proposition 52) and revenue bonds (Propositions 53 and 51) rather than hot-button issues like marijuana legalization, the death penalty and condoms in adult films. High profile propositions on tobacco taxes (Proposition 56) and prescription drug pricing (Proposition 61) rounded out the top five most-viewed measure pages.

Voter’s Edge California, a joint project of MapLight and the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (LWVCEF), provides voters with unbiased information on the entirety of their ballot in English and Spanish, encompassing candidates and ballot measures down to the local level. Users can easily access information on the campaign funding behind California’s 17 statewide measures as well, including the top 10 donors to committees for and against each proposition.

Top Ballot Measures on Voter’s Edge California by Pageviews:

1st - Prop. 52: Private Hospital Fees for Medi-Cal
2nd - Prop. 53: Public Vote on Revenue Bonds
3rd - Prop. 51: Bonds for School Facilities
4th - Prop. 56: Tobacco Tax
5th - Prop. 61: Prescription Drug Costs

“While much of the conversation about ballot measures this election has focused on issues surrounding the death penalty, marijuana legalization, and the tobacco industry, voters also need reliable information on lesser-known measures, and Voter’s Edge California is serving that critical need,” said Daniel G. Newman, President and Co-founder of MapLight.

Previous Voter’s Edge visitors have also echoed this sentiment. In an online survey, more than 90 percent of respondents indicated that Voter’s Edge was useful to them, with nearly three fourths reporting that they would vote for more offices and leave fewer blank choices on their ballots because of information they found on Voter’s Edge California.

As voters increasingly rely on digital sources for news and election information, Voter’s Edge has also made significant improvements to its interface to facilitate easy mobile use. In October alone, Voter’s Edge received over half a million site visitors, more than a third of which accessed the site by mobile. That marks a dramatic increase over 2014, when slightly more than 15 percent of users viewed the website on mobile devices.

"Voter’s Edge California puts unbiased election facts in the hands of every Californian,” said Melissa Breach, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund. "Thanks to an easy-to-use mobile site, voters can study up and save their choices, while riding the bus, watching TV, or just waiting in line".

Earlier this month, Voter's Edge California unveiled new "cards" that provide summary information, such as top donors and endorsements, about candidates and statewide ballot measures in a condensed, convenient format. Media outlets and nonprofit organizations can easily integrate ballot measure and candidate cards into any webpage to supplement their coverage of election contests and help voters research their ballots. The cards are available at no cost and are automatically updated with new campaign contribution data.

Ballot measure card for Proposition 56:
Embeddable card for Prop 56.

Click here for more information on embedding content cards in election stories.

About Voter's Edge California:
Voter's Edge California, a joint project of the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and MapLight, was made possible by generous support from The James Irvine Foundation. The national expansion of the Voter's Edge project was also generously supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Kaphan Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.