Created by two friends trying to do better for their cities.

Researching your ballot
State and local elections don’t receive nearly as much media attention, yet this where a single vote can make a big difference. Local ballot information is notoriously difficult to find so we tried to make it easier for you here.

If you want to start early...

Sadly, most people probably won’t know what they are voting for until they receive their ballot. But with a little bit of creative searching, you can figure out what will be on your ballot ahead of time.

Propositions and measures

FYI - propositions and measures are both proposed legislation and are used interchangeably.

State
For state-level propositions, you can find a list on Ballotpedia and a more comprehensive voter guide with arguments for and against on your Secretary of State website.

🔍 Search terms:

“[state] propositions ballotpedia”
“[state] official voter guide”
“[state] secretary of state voter guide”
“[state] secretary of state voter guide [election date]”

County
For county-level measures, check your official county website, or the Registrar of Voters or Election Board website, specifically. Be patient, these are slow to come out. (We tried looking for a central list of county measures on Sept 8th and there was nothing.)

🔍 Search terms:

“[county] ballot measures”
“[county] ballot measures [election date]”
“[county] election info”

City
Unless you live in a major city where your city is ALSO your county, most city-level measures will be decided via city council meetings, not elections. You can weigh in on these decisions during public meetings and hearings. Better yet, consider getting involved with a local organizing group that has experience with making public comments at city council meetings.

🔍 Search terms:

“[city] city council public hearings”
“[city] city council public meetings”
“[city] city council hearings schedule”

School Districts
Like city meetings and hearings, school districts also have board meetings where members of the public can voice their concerns. Check your school district website for upcoming meetings and special policies for public comments.

🔍 Search terms:

“[school district] board meetings”
“[school district] board meetings agenda”
“[school district] board meetings speaker policy”

Candidates

You’re not just voting for this single person, you’re also voting for the people they might appoint to other offices. Remember that some of these term lengths can last a while so your vote has a long-term impact.

State
As with state-level propositions, your Secretary of State website will have information on state-level candidates. Luckily, these should be easier to find!

🔍 Search terms:

“[state] election candidates”
“[state] candidates voter info [election date]”
“[state] certified list of candidates [election date]”

Local (county and city)
Check your county Registrar of Voters or Election Board website for both county and city-level candidates. Don't forget that public service candidates like school district board members, sheriffs, and utility district directors will show up here too. You might initially get filing information for prospective candidates about how to run for a position so we recommend the following search terms.

🔍 Search terms:

“[county] final list of candidates”
“[county] final qualified candidates”
“[county] official candidate list [election date]”

Cut through the noise

Now to get into the nitty gritty. While researching, remember that somehow everything will be framed in a favorable way. This is politics after all. To help you research smarter, here are some guiding questions:

Follow the money

Who is funding the candidate, the proposition?

Check out...

  • FollowTheMoney.org
  • Your Secretary of State website
  • Candidate website
  • Proposition website

Follow the clout

Who is endorsing the candidate, the proposition?

Check out…

  • Candidate social media accounts
  • Candidate website
  • Proposition website

Follow the power

Who does this give decision-making and funding to? Private corps, voters, local gov, fed gov?

Check out...

  • Voter info guide from grassroots orgs
  • Official voter info guide from your election board

Follow the silence

What is NOT being said? Which side of the debate is not getting as much attention?

Check out...

  • Grassroots social media
  • Independent local journalists

Here are some general resources:

  • Local newspapers
  • Local public radio stations
  • Local chapters of political orgs
  • Issue-specific grassroots orgs (these orgs might even host debates with local candidates around specific issues)

In a pinch, you can also see if any local newspapers or grassroots orgs have voter guides.

Think of it like dating

Remember that it’s unlikely the perfect candidate will exist. But that doesn’t mean you can’t evaluate them critically. Think of it like dating - what are your must-haves, nice-to-haves, and red flags? Then construct a pro/con list like this hypothetical county supervisor race:

Candidate #1 Candidate #2
Hypothetical state candidate 1 Hypothetical state candidate 2
Pros
- Progressive challenger to incumbent
- Strong on criminal justice reform
- Supports Prop A
- Does not support Prop J
- Endorsed by Congresswoman 22
- Working-class, Black woman
Pros
- Good record of passing legislation
- Supports inclusive zoning
- Supports Prop A
- Endorsed by President 52
Cons
- Lacks legislative experience
- Unclear stance on zoning laws
Cons
- Career politician
- Endorsed ex-county court judge
- Supports Prop J



If you are lacking information on a particular issue you care about, try reaching out to the candidates directly! Especially if these are local races, they should be eager to talk to constituents and attract more voters.

A testimony from Rachel

"I emailed a school district board candidate to get her thoughts on whether the decision to maintain current district boundaries is implicitly classist and racist to which she said that I brought up 'a very interesting point' and 'would love to hear more.' And then she never followed-up. Not the best impression."

Extra resources

Small Victories