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A different voters guide: Reading is just the start

A place to exercise the franchise in Magnuson Park. Credit: King County Elections

As elections matter more, voters seem to become more frustrated and overwhelmed with the process. Voter turnout for the primary election earlier this year was a lackluster 31.5 percent across the state. We’re now quickly coming up to the general election and the projections for voter turnout are lower than the last two mid-term elections.

Yet our election decisions profoundly affect the quality of our communities and our personal lives. It’s so important that we consider them carefully, with due deliberation and with the benefit of community wisdom. We need to come together as citizens to explore our electoral choices–without accusations, rancor and acrimony — knowing that we’re all going to share the profit and loss generated by our collective decisions on Nov. 4. And then we need to vote to make our electoral voices heard.

LivingVotersGuide.org supports that path to engaged and informed voting. Developed by Seattle CityClub in partnership with University of Washington, this online tool helps Washingtonians consider their choices, get relevant background information and discuss candidates and ballot issues with each other.

LivingVotersGuide.org evolves as each new person uses it. You can plug in your zip code and read up on local ballot measures right in your neighborhood. You can learn what’s on the ballot, decide how to vote and share opinions with fellow voters. The site serves as a one-stop clearinghouse for election information, including official ballot information and financial impact statements, top contributors, endorsements, select news articles and videos. LivingVotersGuide.org 2014 features all of the statewide measures and local ballot initiatives, provided by the Secretary of State, as well as Washington’s 10 Congressional races.

LivingVotersGuide.org is not an angry echo chamber, but a civil forum for sharing facts and thoughtful perspectives. Seattle Public Library is providing on-demand fact checking of comments and additions, while site monitors ensure that the dialogue remains civil and constructive. To date, it’s been used by more than 60,000 people in Washington state.

This election is filled with confusing and conflicting measures, such as competing statewide ballot measures on gun background checks, involving high stakes and big money. Also on the ballot is a measure backed by teachers’ unions to mandate that public classroom sizes average 17 students.

We invite you to join the conversation and explore www.livingvotersguide.org, The decisions we make on state ballot measures are crucial. We feel their consequences immediately and for a long time. So do our kids. That’s why we need to consider them carefully with the benefit of community wisdom in a forum that is nuanced, pluralistic and collaborative.

We built LivingVotersGuide.org to inspire public trust in one another, to reclaim citizens’ power and shared responsibility for making our democracy work. We hope you will explore it and share it with your family, friends, neighbors and networks.

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