Ballotpedia:WikiProject Local Ballot Measures guidelines/Opposition

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This writing guide explains how to craft a "Opposition" section for a local ballot measure article.


The "Opposition" section of an article should be created as content to fill the section becomes available. The section houses all information concerning opponents, opposing arguments and opposing campaigns for the local ballot measure in question. "Opposition" and "Support" sections should be created together.


The following subsections are sometimes featured in the "Opposition" section:

  • "Opponents"
  • "Arguments against"
  • "Official arguments"
  • "Editorials"
  • "Campaign finance"

Most articles simply feature an "Opponents" section and an "Arguments against" section.


Information about the official campaign and all "no" vote endorsements for the measure should be included in this subsection.

If the list of opponents is extremely long, a separate page can be created and linked to as was done on this page for supporters. In cases such as these, a sample of opponents should be listed on the main article.

Care must be taken to avoid listing people who do not actually oppose the measure. For example, even if a local legislator votes against putting a measure on the ballot, it does not necessarily mean that he or she opposes the provisions of the measure. He or she may simply think that it is not an issue that voters should decide. In fact, in the case of indirect initiatives, voting to put an initiative measure on the ballot can, but does not always, indicate opposition, since the alternative is for the legislator to enact the measure directly.

Arguments in favor

All arguments should include references.

There are (at least) two options for how a writer can characterize the arguments that are being made in opposition to a measure:

  • Quote: You can quote the actual arguments. This gives the reader the exact flavor of how the measure's supporters or opponents are actually talking about it. The actual words or phrases used as arguments by those involved in supporting or opposing a measure can be raw, vigorous, aggressive and full of spin. The arguments offered up by those on campaigns can also be misleading, either deliberately or by accident. The positive case to be made for quoting the real things people are saying is that it lets the reader know exactly what people are, in fact, saying. The negative case is that without exercising significant care in how you write it, you might appear to be endorsing or agreeing with some facts or charges the opponents/supporters are making as part of their argument. Note: when adding a quote make sure to note who said the statement and reference your source.
  • Paraphrase: You can characterize arguments that are being made, without directly quoting raw, aggressive or potentially misleading claims. This allows you to lay out the main reasons people are giving for their position, without putting yourself in the position of appearing to agree with factual claims that are part of their argument, but which have not been established or may not be true.

A combination of these two options should be used to achieve the best "Arguments against" section.

If there are official ballot arguments, these should be included in this section.


If the editorial boards of prominent news papers release articles arguing for a "no" vote on the measure, these should be featured.

Campaign finance

If the campaign finance information for the support and opposition to a measure is interesting or notable, it should be added to the article.

Ideally, the total contributions to and expenditures of the committees opposing the measure should be reported, along with at least the top five or ten donors. As expenditures and contributions are constantly changing, the section should feature a disclaimer such as "As of March 23, 2014, ..."

Videos & images

See also: Help:Embedding a video & Images project portal
  • Campaign videos found on youtube can be added to the pages in the "Opposition" section to illustrate the campaign videos being run by the opponents. These videos can be "floated" to the right or left of the article or put in their own section. Instructions for embedding videos can be found here.
  • Campaign images: Relevant opposition campaign images such as logos, signs, political cartoons and advertisements can be added to the article in the "Opposition" section. All copyrights must be respected according to Ballotpedia's image use and copyright policies.


The "Opposition" section should be located immediately under the "Support" section.


The "installation code" for an "Opposition" section featuring basic components:



===Arguments against===

====Official arguments====
The following statement was submitted as the official argument in opposition to this measure:<reference>
*Insert text here*
|author = AUTHOR NAME(S)<reference>}}


The "installation code" for the "Editorials" subsection looks like:

* The '''''NEWS PAPER #1 NAME''''' editorial board endorsed a "no" vote on this measure, arguing ... Below is an excerpt of the editorial:<reference>
*Insert text here*
|author = '''''NEWS PAPER NAME''''' editorial board<reference>}}

* The '''''NEWS PAPER #2 NAME''''' editorial board endorsed a "no" vote on this measure, arguing ... Below is an excerpt of the editorial:<reference>
*Insert text here*
|author = '''''NEWS PAPER NAME''''' editorial board<reference>}}


Campaign finance

Campaign finance sections can vary.

The following code can be used to list opposing donors and their donations:

===Campaign finance===

{|class="wikitable" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5" border="1" style="background:none" style="width:80%;"
! style="background-color:#00008B; color: white;" | Donor
! style="background-color:#00008B; color: white;" | Amount
| text align="right" | $$
| text align="right" | $$
| text align="right" | $$

The following code should be used in one place somewhere in the article to display an info box with the "total campaign cash" for both the support and opposition:

{|class="infobox" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5" border="1"  style="background-color:#FBEC5D; color:black;" style="width:20%;"
| colspan="2" style="background-color:#FBEC5D; color:black;" align="center" | '''Total campaign cash''' [[File:Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png|21px]]<br><small>''as of DATE, YEAR''</small>
| style="background-color:white; color:black;" | {{support}} '''Support:'''
| align="right" | '''$$TOTAL SUPPORT CONTRIBUTIONS'''
| style="background-color:white; color: black;" | {{oppose}} '''Opposition:''' 
| align="right" | '''$$TOTAL OPPOSITION CONTRIBUTIONS'''


To find instructions on adding youtube videos to the article, see this page.

No content

If no content for one of the sections can be found, the following code should be included in the otherwise empty section.

If you have an argument you would like to see posted here, please email the [ Local Ballot Measures Project staff writer].


Below are links to the "Opposition" sections of several local ballot measure articles to serve as examples:

See also