Writing:Articles about ballot measures

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How to write about
ballot measures
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(Stub articles)
Naming the article
Election results
Text of measure
Campaign contributions
Reports & analyses
Media endorsements
Path to the ballot
Similar measures
See also
External links
Additional reading

Overview articles

Library of tutorials
A successful article on Ballotpedia about a ballot measure:
  • Tells readers everything they could want to know about the measure.
  • Is readable.
  • Is balanced and neutral in its point-of-view.
  • Describes the arguments each side uses to make their case to the public.
  • Covers controversies in a fair, balanced and neutral way.
  • Includes information about any lawsuits involving the ballot proposition.
  • Uses sections, subsections and other graphic formatting to make it easy for readers to find what they want.
  • During election campaigns, regularly updates information on donors and campaign tactics used by both sides.
  • Includes useful references and external links.

It also:

See also: Ballotpedia: How not to write articles about ballot measures.

Stub articles

See also: Writing:Ballot measure stub articles

This section provides writing guidelines for creating a "stub" (starter) article. There are two types of articles: an article that summarizes the number of measures and election details, known as a "State/Year article," and an article that describes a single measure, known as a "measure article."

Writing guidelines

Writing guidelines
Ballot measures
State legislatures
State executives
Congressional districts
School Boards
Municipal Gov't
Criminal behavior & scandal
News articles

Proposed measure

A measure that has recently been proposed and is only in the initial stages may include:

  1. Naming the article
  2. Introduction
  3. Path to the ballot
  4. Similar measures
  5. See also
  6. External links
  7. References
  8. Templates
  9. Categories

Measure on the ballot

A measure certified to appear on the ballot may include the following components:

  1. Naming the article
  2. Infobox
  3. Introduction
  4. Text of measure
    1. This may include subsections: Title, Summary, Fiscal note, Changes to text, Constitutional changes
  5. Support/opposition
    1. This may include campaign graphics/videos and subsections: supporters, arguments, campaign contributions, campaign advertising, tactics and strategies, consultants, controversies.
  6. Support/opposition
    1. This may include campaign graphics/videos and subsections: supporters, arguments, campaign contributions, campaign advertising, tactics and strategies, consultants, controversies.
  7. Campaign contributions
    1. generally this is featured within each support and opposition section, however, long and notable articles warrant a section for campaign contributions all to its own
  8. Reports & analysis
    1. this section could alternatively be called "Reports" or "Reports and analysis" or "Report and studies" or "studies"
  9. Media endorsements
  10. Polls
  11. Lawsuits
  12. Path to the ballot
  13. Similar measures
  14. See also
  15. External links
  16. Additional reading
  17. References
  18. Templates
  19. Categories

After the election

Measures that have already appeared on the ballot and been voted on may include all of the above as well as:

  1. Aftermath
  2. Election results
    1. If the measure was later invalidated or overturned, follow the instructions here.

NOTE:Both sections appear immediately below the introduction and in the order listed.

Historical measures

Historical ballot measures articles generally follow the guidelines set forth for current ballot measure articles (above), however there are few points to note:

Aftermath section

  • Historical measures may have lawsuits many years after the measure was seen on the ballot. These lawsuits are typically listed in the aftermath section.
  • Historical measures may cause other measures to appear on the ballot. When this is evident, it should be noted in the aftermath section.

Election results section

  • In the {{Short outcome}} template, the title of the article should be listed as: State Measure # (Year) [ex. Arizona Proposition 102 (1988)]
  • Ballot measures are occasionally overturned after they were approved by the general populous. In these cases, it should be noted in the {{Short outcome}} template as noted in the template's documentation.

Unused subsections

The following sections will likely not be found in historical ballot measures:

Finding content

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Here are good places to find out about the ballot measure. If an article has already been started and you want to add to it, these resources can be consulted for additional detail and information.

  • Do double check the information already available on Ballotpedia. Many states already have information available on I&R law, Historical listing of initiatives (up until 2000), links to campaign finance laws and profiles of government officials.
  • Do a Google search to see if you can find the websites of the groups that supported and opposed the initiative.
    • Another good way to find out who supported the measure is to check out the campaign finance reports associated with the measure on your state's website.
  • Go to Project Vote Smart’s website and enter the name or some appropriate search words for the initiative you’re interested in.
  • Go to the I&R Institute website
    • Make sure to check out the BallotWatch feature on this website. It's an excellent resource for ballot trends and ballot specific information.
  • Another great source is the National Conference of State Legislatures. The site contains an easy to use state by state breakdown of I&R law and petitioning requirements. It also contains a feature that allows you to search for initiatives and referendums by state, year and topic in the Ballot Database.
  • Look at the Lexis/Nexis website for newspaper articles about the initiative
    • Lexis Nexis is a website that has local/national archives of newspaper articles. Usually you can access it through your university or local library.
  • If you do not have access to Lexis Nexis, make sure to check out Google News
  • Consult Wikipedia
  • Try a Google blog search.
  • Don't forget to visit your state's ballot measure website. Although the quality of these websites varies considerably from state-to-state, in most states you can find some information about each ballot measure.
    • All states also have a campaign finance reporting database. Search for the measure, look at contributors and do some investigating of your own through a simple google search to find out about the contributors and any interesting connections!

Historical content

Suggestions on how to start finding historical content can be found on the page: Writing:Ballot measure research sources.