Voting is important, especially in local elections. However, it is exactly these elections where voters feel uninformed, and apathetic. Radical Partners and the Miami Herald have teamed up to help change that.
Voter turnout in Miami Dade County has recently been better than the national average, however this is not the full picture. Some neighborhoods regularly vote in the 70%+ range, while others usually come out in the 20-40% range. When many are asked why they do not vote in elections, they usually cite a lack of importance in their life, or a lack of knowledge as to candidates, ballot measures, etc. VoteMiami.org has created a series of tools to give voters the power to make their own decisions on the issues that affect them the most profoundly. Visit the full site here.
The site is separated into 3 main tabs: What to vote for (explore your ballot), Who Votes? (analyzing voter turnout) and Who Pays? (campaign finance).
The first tab helps voters explore their ballots and make informed decisions. Using a tool called BallotReady from Civic Engine, voters can build their ballots using data and resume’s scraped from news articles, candidate websites, and past initiatives.
Candidates can be broken down by issues, and voters can read quotes and excerpts of policy and proposals from the candidate in order to make an informed decision. When the voter chooses a candidate, they simply press “Add to Ballot” and move onto the next item.
The tool also supports ballot initiatives, and provides a handy description of each beyond the usually dense ballot language. You can also indicate a preference on these and add to your ballot. At the end, you can email or print into a handy one pager that you can take into the ballot box, or to help mark your mail-in ballot.
In the “Who Votes?” section, community members can play around with a dynamic map of voter turnout in the county, toggling available information such as age and race. The bottom 2 maps above show areas with high voter turnout (left), and areas with low voter turnout (right). You can see areas with more recent immigration such as Homestead and Hialeah with lower voter turnout. You can also see areas with higher income such as Pinecrest, Coconut Grove, and Miami Springs have a higher turnout.
The above turnout maps focus on Youth Voter (18-34) turnout. Map on the left shows areas with high Youth Voter turnout, while the one on the shows areas low youth voter turnout. Using this map, Get out the vote organizations, community leaders, and community members can learn more about their neighborhoods and adjust accordingly.
The above turnout maps focus on hispanic turnout. The left map shows areas with high hispanic turnout, while the map on the right shows areas with low hispanic turnout. These maps can also be used by community organizations and members.
The final area of the VoteMiami.org site is focused on campaign finance. It shows the source of money for each candidate between individuals and businesses. Above is the race for City of Miami District 1, showing Alex Diaz de la Portilla raising the most, and raising most of those funds from businesses. On the right shows Miami Beach Group V organized by size of average/median donation. These stats should help to inform voters, and keep candidates honest.
Local elections are important. They are about how we get to work, how water comes out of the faucet, how to keep our kids safe, and how we are going to pay the rent, however, they often take a backseat in news, media, and general conversation. Hopefully this tool will empower people to educate themselves and others as to the importance of gearing up and voting local.