What we're about

Ballot Knowledge Network

Facilitating informed decision making for Democracy

Our purpose

• We are training (and practicing) quick and effective consensual self-governance:

• How do we make an informed decision that helps us vote in a way that we feel has come from a place of fair evaluation.

• How best can we make sure that we have heard enough to ensure that we shall never regret our decision?

• We would like to make it normal that people have a government that they really want and that really does what they want.

If we do our work successfully, every citizen would be informed and would rate their elected representatives ten out of ten for satisfaction as a representative (this is likely impossible to achieve, but we think it is approachable).

Why do this?

“Most have little or no confidence in political wisdom of the American people” according to Pew Research. (http://www.people-press.org/2018/04/26/the-public-the-political-system-and-american-democracy/overview_3-6/) In addition, “Few say tone of political debate is ‘respectful.’” (http://www.people-press.org/2018/04/26/the-public-the-political-system-and-american-democracy/) The same study goes on to say that there are: “Wide partisan gaps in views of some aspects of political system, criticism from both parties on others[.]” (http://www.people-press.org/2018/04/26/the-public-the-political-system-and-american-democracy/overview_6-4/) Martin Gillens and Benjamin I. Page of Princeton have also shown in their study that: “When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” (https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf) The problem seems very difficult and perhaps some think impossible to fix.

We at the Ballot Knowledge Network beg to differ! We are building a curriculum, training teachers and offering free one-on-one tutoring that is helping citizens make informed decisions in elections. We do all of this on a complete volunteer basis and any of our training can be received over Google Hangouts, Skype, Discord, Zoom or what you will.

What shall we do?

1. We shall introduce ourselves and go over group agreements

2. Determine what each individual is interested in and what can help everyone be more informed decision makers

a. Interview the group about how each group member is satisfied with the city/state/nation/planet.

b. Determine what is most important to the group and how everyone can work on something that matters to them.

3. Practice finding and analyzing all the available information needed to make an informed decision

a. You may watch a volunteer go through the process and opt in for as much participation as you would like.

b. You may research on your own computer while we demonstrate to find more sources.

c. You are also free to do your own research on a topic of your choice and we can help you as you go.

4. Brainstorm questions to ask

a. What questions would be good questions to ask a friend who requested help.

b. What questions would be good questions to ask another activist?

c. What questions would be good questions to ask a candidate?

d. What questions would be good questions to ask an elected official?

Examples of how the group might explore

• Complete candidate coverage across the political spectrum including third parties.

• Each candidate’s position on every issue that is of relevance to the electorate

• How is the issue currently polling among the voting block and across the whole nation?

• Additional positions that the candidates are not taking on the same issues

• Evidence and justifications for and against each position

• Each candidate’s voting record on related measures

• Campaign finance information about candidates

• Links to the sources of information

• Whatever people require to be sufficiently informed about the debate of an issue.

Nonpartisanship, Inclusiveness and Consent

We expect volunteers and participants to avoid sharing their personal political preferences, but rather focus on the social problems they are looking to solve. We expect everyone to avoid attempting to impose their personal positions while working together or teaching. We also expect volunteers and participants to be respectful to everyone. We do not tolerate social power dynamics such as personal attacks, dismissive behavior and disrespect. We expect that members actively request consent rather than presume what their fellows want.

Past events (33)

Presidential Primary Nonpartisan Study Group

Boulder Public Library - Main Library

Ballot Knowledge Research Group

Seeds Library Cafe

Ballot Knowledge Research Group

Flagstaff Room, Boulder Public Library

Ballot Knowledge Research Group

Flagstaff Room, Boulder Public Library

Photos (21)