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Ballot Measures Team Staff Writer (Remote)

Company: MessageGears
Location: Houston
Posted on: January 16, 2022

Job Description:

Ballotpedia is a collaborative team of fast learners and creative problem solvers who are eager to work hard to make the world a better place. We believe the world will be a better place if every citizen has access to information to make informed decisions about their vote in every election in which they are eligible to vote: primary, general, and special elections; federal, state, and local offices.

We work diligently to present the available information about elections, candidates, judges, ballot measures, policies, and more in a way that enables our readers to vote with confidence and to act as engaged citizens outside of the polling booth.

Ballotpedia readers, like Ballotpedia staff, are special people.

When we launched in 2007, we did not go out of our way to seek new readers. Starting with our small team of visionary idealists, nerds, and aspiring political journalists, we just wrote the best unbiased online articles we could, especially about ballot measures. Readers found those articles in droves. It turns out there was an unclaimed audience out there-people who wanted straightforward facts about political issues, and were willing to read at length instead of just scanning the headlines.

"If you build it, they will come:'' our readers came to our neutral oasis in growing numbers; we've had many millions of lifetime pageviews, we reached nearly half of all voters in 2020, and, in the month surrounding the November 2020 election, we were the 77th most-visited website in the U.S.

We've come to realize that we need to meet our readers where they are. In doing so, over the past five years, we've grown our email newsletter program from infancy to include more than 1,000,000 opt-in subscribers with more than a dozen newsletters to choose from. We are working in numerous ways to help put our neutral information in front of people at the times when they most need it, including on mobile phones while you're standing in the voting booth. We firmly believe that our readers, and the mindset we help them cultivate, are essential to the preservation of our great civilization in a world where too many others are fighting to get us all addicted to sensational posts and the irrational decisions they foster.

If this is a mission you'd be willing to work hard to achieve, and if this is a team you'd be willing to work hard with-JOIN US.

The Position

Ballotpedia is seeking a full-time Staff Writer to join our Ballot Measures Team.

It is the job of the staff writer to develop and improve information about direct democracy. Ballotpedia has a unique production model, and you are encouraged to learn more here.

The Ballot Measures project includes coverage of current statewide ballot measures, certain current local ballot measures, historical ballot measures, and the laws governing ballot measures. Coverage includes

  • the processes by which measures reach the ballot (including signature petitions, legislative session votes, and lawsuits);
  • a measure's policy and political context;
  • the campaigns surrounding these measures (including factors like campaign finance, editorials, arguments for and against, lists of endorsements, polls, and campaign tactics);
  • the elections themselves; and
  • aftermath (such as post-election lawsuits, the amendment or repeal of approved measures, responses from key officials, and the implementation of approved measures).

    To succeed at Ballotpedia, you must be self-aware and personally invested in constant improvement. You must have a passion for creating a delightful experience for Ballotpedia's customers, and you must strive to develop expertise in your subject and the inner workings of your project.

    To understand the type of subject-matter expertise you will be expected to acquire, please read the following excerpt from Ballotpedia News:

    The campaign Alaskans for Better Elections filed 41,068 signatures on Thursday for a three-pronged ballot initiative to change the state's election laws. At least 28,501 (69.4 percent) of the signatures submitted need to be valid for the ballot initiative to be certified. Alaska also has a signature distribution requirement, which requires that signatures equal to 7 percent of the vote in the last general election must be collected in each of 30 (of 40) Alaska House of Representatives districts.

    Changes to Alaska's election policies proposed by the initiative include:
    • requiring persons and entities that make contributions that were themselves derived from donations, contributions, dues, or gifts to disclose the true sources (as defined in law) of the contributions;
    • replacing partisan primaries with open top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional; and
    • establishing ranked-choice voting for general elections, in which voters would rank the four candidates that succeeded from the primaries.

      Currently, no states utilize a top-four primary for state or federal elections, and one state-Maine-uses ranked-choice voting for some state and federal elections. Top-four primaries are similar to top-two systems, which are used in California and Washington. Both move candidates through the primary to the general election regardless of party affiliation. Instead of the top-two vote-getters moving to the general election, the ballot initiative would move the top-four vote-getters to the general election. Under the proposal, voters would use ranked-choice voting to rank the four candidates in the general election.

      Former Rep. Jason Grenn (I-22) is chairperson of Alaskans for Better Elections. Bruce Botelho (D), the former mayor of Anchorage and Bonnie Jack (R) are co-chairs of the campaign. Through January 5, 2020, the campaign had reported $757,411, with $600,000 from Unite America and $100,000 from Action Now Initiative. Both organizations have supported ranked-choice voting initiatives in the past. Support was also received from American Promise, FairVote, and Represent.Us.


      As a Ballot Measures Team Staff Writer, you will:
      • Produce excellent articles about statewide ballot measures according to guidelines and training.
      • Track the status of measures in a list of assigned states and cover the status through the established structures and SOPs.
      • Build and manage assigned articles in line with Ballotpedia's writing guidelines and expected quality levels.
      • Check breaking news daily and make timely updates to those articles based on judgement about what updates will most satisfy readers.
      • Monitor legislative and elections websites for ballot measure activity.
      • Ensure that your team's managing editor, product lead, and team members are aware of project progress by attending short, scheduled meetings throughout the week and regularly updating Asana tasks.
      • Respond to news by quickly developing new ballots content or writing new articles as needed.
      • Work with writing coaches to constantly improve writing skills and assigned articles.
      • Contribute to Ballotpedia's election night coverage, including updating election results in real-time and working with the elections team as needed.
      • Cover assigned breaking news shifts outside of regular working hours during infrequent, scheduled on-call shifts (about 3-4 weeknights and 1-2 weekends per year).
      • Receiving and incorporating feedback according to deadlines set by the project lead and agreed to through negotiation.
      • Develop and update political analysis articles as assigned.
      • Write articles in an unbiased neutral way according to training on Ballotpedia's editorial policy on neutrality.
      • Learn and master Ballotpedia's Style Guide (which is based on the AP Stylebook).
      • Update the Ballotpedia database according to established criteria and SOPs.
      • Answer questions from other projects, supervisors, and Communications regarding promotions and ballots content.
      • Have opportunities to field media requests, as needed, with experience.

        Skills And Qualifications

        An ideal Ballot Measures Team Staff Writer will possess:
        • Passion and knowledge about politics, including the United States political system and elections. They will be someone who follows current events and is aware of news occurring in American politics.
        • Excellent writing skills. They write clearly and concisely, and know that the skill requires constant practice. Experience as a professional writer and/or editor is preferred.
        • The ability to write about complex topics in a neutral, clear, and concise manner.
        • Proficient organizational skills, proofreading ability, and familiarity with the use of style guides. Ballotpedia has its own style guide that is based on the AP Stylebook.
        • With training, the ability to independently track a large number of news stories and state or county legislative and elections websites.
        • Ability to look at our content from different points of view. They understand how customers with different political beliefs, needs, or priorities would perceive our content.
        • A drive and desire for innovation and flexibility and have the ability to identify and solve problems proactively. Adapting to changing tasks and tools is key.
        • The ability to handle critical feedback well. They view it as an opportunity to deliver greater value to our readers.
        • Experience with data entry work, databases, or spreadsheets is preferred.


          The Ballot Measures Team Staff Writer will work remotely from their home location. All Ballotpedia staff work remotely. To join Ballotpedia, you must have a computer with Internet access. Ballotpedia uses the Google Suite (Gmail, Google Calendar, Drive and more), Slack, and Asana to accomplish our goals. Some familiarity with the Google Suite, Slack, and Asana are helpful.

          Ballotpedia has a flexible work environment, BP Flex, in which every employee enjoys unlimited vacation and flexibility in scheduling. Each employee will be oriented to the principles of Ballotpedia's flexible environment during new employee training.


          The starting pay range for the Ballot Measures Team Staff Writer is $38,000-$40,000, commensurate with experience.

          In addition to salary, Ballotpedia offers an annual benefits stipend equivalent to $7,000 that is paid out in equal increments in each paycheck once an employee becomes benefits eligible following a brief review period. The stipend may be used to pay for a full benefits package, including health, vision, and dental insurance; retirement accounts; and more. If benefits are not elected, the stipend is taxed as regular income and added to salary.

          To Apply

          To apply please visit our job opportunities page and complete an application on our website. Please attach the following in PDF format if possible:
          • r--sum--
          • cover letter detailing your interest in Ballotpedia's mission/this position
          • neutral writing sample (under five pages)

            Please ensure that either your r--sum-- or your cover letter include your current address.

Keywords: MessageGears, Houston , Ballot Measures Team Staff Writer (Remote), Advertising , Houston, Texas

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