connect / 2014

SeePolitical - Making Ballot Propositions Easy to Understand

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by SeePolitical

SeePolitical explains the confusing language for each ballot proposition in less than two minutes with our engaging and unbiased videos.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

SeePolitical explains the confusing language for each ballot proposition in less than two minutes with our engaging and unbiased videos.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside

What is your idea/project in more detail?

SeePolitical.com is an interactive website, widget and mobile app providing objective, easily understood information about ballot propositions for all Angelenos. Trying to understand the complex language found on most ballots is frustrating and often results in uninformed voters approving unintended consequences. In the case for our region, most voters are not even participating. The June 2014 primary turned out an alarmingly record-low number of voters in Los Angeles County.

SeePolitical breaks the mold by offering unbiased entertaining educational content that informs and empowers voters in English and in Spanish.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

SeePolitical is nonprofit organization offering an unprecedented service: Concise, unbiased, entertaining information on ballot measures, which we all crave.

Los Angeles is the perfect place for SeePolitical to start educating voters. Voters in this city are confronted multiple times a year with major public policy issues with huge social implications and billions of dollars at stake. SeePolitical’s initial goal is to educate and inform Angelenos about the implications of each statewide ballot measure.

After a successful trial in Los Angeles, SeePolitical will begin to cover ballot props in other cities and states. SeePolitical has the potential to be the go-to source for voter education and will quickly surpass outdated text heavy formats currently used to inform the public.

We have already built an incredible team in Los Angeles and tested the concept, now it’s time to execute: 1) SeePolitical and the League of Women Voters have teamed up to conduct expert policy research & analysis for each ballot proposition, ensuring a fair and balanced explanation for both the Yes and No side. 2) Our Emmy-award winning studio, Imaginary Forces, located in LA translates this research into informative, engaging videos explaining each ballot prop less than 2 minutes. 3) SeePolitical’s videos will be distributed to partner organizations and media outlets across LA County for mass distribution. 4) Voters can watch our videos on the web or from any mobile device, and save their voting preferences on SeePolitical’s mobile app which they can use as their personal cheat sheet on Election Day! 5) SeePolitical will have unprecedented real-time polling data and insights to localized and aggregate voter behavior and trends.

SeePolitical’s characters clarify what a YES vote entails and what a NO vote entails for each proposition during a 60-90 second animated, audio cartoon clip. Each viewer can save his/her choice by clicking on the YES, NO, or MAYBE button at the bottom of the screen. The viewer then has the option to print or save their selections for easy reference that will be emailed and/or texted to them when it is time to vote.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CONNECT today? In 2050?

SeePolitical will literally connect LA residents to the issues we are expected to vote on. SeePolitical strives to increase understanding of major public policy issues by reaching target demographics in their environments with engaging, interactive and entertaining content.

Our nonprofit organization has developed a novel method to address a major social problem in our city - voter confusion and voter apathy - which are inherently linked. After proving our concept this year in Los Angeles, SeePolitical will provide a platform for all Angelenos to discuss and organize around political issues.

SeePolitical can provide an innovative approach to explaining ballot measures that surpasses the status quo in impact and cost.

SeePolitical’s integrity is established with completely unbiased and objective explanations. We utilize the Attorney General and Secretary of State’s public voter guide as our primary source of analysis. The popularity of SeePolitical will lie in our ability to convey this information to Angelenos through dynamic animation. The success of SeePolitical lies in our ability to engage potential voters in their online environments, provide cutting edge easy to use tools for understanding and make them care enough to share. The outcome will be a well-informed voting public in this city with a clear understanding of each proposition we encounter in the voting booth. SeePolitical’s bottom line is to increase overall voter turnout at each election and connect Angelenos to some of the most important issues we face as a city and region.

SeePolitical will engage users in their social environments through custom built social media and mobile applications giving them the ability to interact with each other and share. For instance, your friend in Silver Lake took a SeePolitical poll on Facebook and another one in Boyle Heights shared their thoughts and video via our iPhone application. Our mobile rich media widgets will inform target audiences by offering value added content on partner websites.

Long term plans include building a walled garden social network for voters in our city to align and organize around issues dear to them, archiving ballot measures and voter behaviors, becoming a valuable source of educational information for students involved with the formulation of public policy and expanding the scope to a national scale.

Whom will your project benefit?

SeePolitical will truly benefit everyone in LA. Residents who feel it is their civic duty to vote but don’t want to spend too much time learning about propositions will be able to enjoy SeePolitical’s entertaining and informative content. New U.S. citizens who don’t read English well enough to truly understand the legal jargon on each ballot will have an opportunity to watch and listen to SeePolitical’s explanations in their native tongue. The seasoned voter will also enjoy a new and refreshing take on explaining policy issues, in addition to access to links to outside content that can offer more in-depth explanations. Teachers in our classrooms will finally have a tool to help their students learn about the complex issues that their parents are voting on as well as the very process that they too will be expected to participate in as adult citizens. When it comes down to it, everyone in our great city will benefit from SeePolitical’s content and voter tool.

The organization was started with a goal and a dream four years ago. To date, we have created an ecosystem of partnerships, distribution channels and affiliations to political organizations that led to our beta launch in Summer and Fall 2012 elections. Since 2012 we have secured major partnerships with LA’s own Emmy Award winning animation studio, Imaginary Forces, and the USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics (their students assist in our policy analysis research) as well as the Otis College of Art and Design near LAX.

We intend to impact as much of the population as possible in future elections, but do have some specific segments we are focusing on, such as: African American, Latino and Asian populations; young voters; low-income voters; immigrants; and as part of our dedication to education a subcategory would be students not old enough to vote.

There are persistent gaps in voter turnout by income and educational attainment. Percentage of eligible youth vote turnout (18-29 years old) is also at a historic low lending to a “political lag” by which the public policies adopted don’t reflect the needs of the citizenry, because most aren’t participating.

SeePolitical will offer teachers in the classroom a free and easy to use tool to teach their students about the major public policy issues of the day, as well as issues from the past. We can offer a unique and entertaining format to get kids in LAUSD and surrounding school districts interested and involved in the democratic process.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Confirmed Partners include: California League of Women Voters – “The League” has been the gold standard in voter education for nearly 100 years. The League has officially partnered with SeePolitical this year in our policy research and distribution of our video content.

Imaginary Forces – Our Emmy award winning animation studio located in West LA creates and develops video content for SeePolitical. Since 1996, Imaginary Forces has told many stories, pushed many boundaries and entertained audiences through their work.

USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics - is dedicated to bridging
 the academic study of politics with practical experience. This includes an internship program with SeePolitical that started January 2014 where students learn about California’s direct democracy system and participate in research and analysis of current and future ballot propositions.

Otis College of Art and Design - Established in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design is L.A.’s first independent professional school of art. In coordination with the college’s liberal arts and digital media departments, the college is offering a multi-disciplinary SeePolitical work-study course for their seniors.

Guru Media Solutions – Guru is a full service agency empowering movements through compelling digital campaigns and brand experiences. Guru is a nimble, creative, independent minded digital marketing agency serving purpose-driven campaigns, organizations, and brands.

The California Channel – The California Channel a.k.a. California’s C-SPAN station has agreed to air SeePolitical’s informative ballot prop videos prior to the November election.

SeePolitical is in serious partnership discussions with: Univision (distribution and Spanish voice overs), 89.3 FM KPCC (distribution), YouTube (distribution), FWD.us (distribution and engagement), and Yelp.com (distribute our videos to over 1.4 million of their Los Angeles County subscribers).

Each day our list of partners and collaborators grow because people understand the need for our service and want to encourage voter participation in LA.

In order for our partnerships to succeed, SeePolitical must: 1) Deliver high quality videos that engage our audience 2) Provide strictly unbiased interpretations for each ballot proposition 3) Continue to nurture our existing relationships and develop relationships beyond our initial scope by directly engaging each organization’s membership and/or audience.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Connect” metrics?

  • Voting rates by race
  • Participation in neighborhood councils
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)
  • Total number of social media friends (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open street gatherings (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

SeePolitical is designed to make the political process less political and more transparent and accessible for everyone regardless of socio-economic status or education level. It shouldn’t be necessary to be a lawyer or a politico in order to understand the complex language on each ballot.

Many people in our city are often too intimidated to vote or don’t feel like their vote actually counts, and who can blame them? Ballot measures are sometimes purposefully written to confuse and deter voter participation. SeePolitical will eliminate the phrase from our electoral lexicon, “Does No, mean Yes or Yes, mean No?”

Government programs will respond to the needs of its constituents and empower Angelenos during the decision making process. Finally, everyone will have an opportunity to participate in our democratic process and make informed decisions in the voting booth.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

For the first time ever underserved voters will be able to: Quickly and easily understand ballot propositions that affect them; easily record thoughts on ballot propositions and establish reminders for specific voting dates; quickly share thoughts with friends in Los Angeles and other interested parties through established social networks; interact with the next generation of voter education tools via their device of choice

How We Measure Success: ➢ Build Relationships Through Digital/Social: • Attract -> Convert -> Support -> Extend ➢ Measure Effectiveness of Campaign through Impressions -> Leads -> Conversions -> Loyalty/Engagement

We want to meet our brand awareness goal by engaging at least 5% of California registered voters, which equals approximately 890,000 people, mostly in the Los Angeles region.

Metric Goals Web: 50k monthly unique visits Social Media/Emails: 50k+ Database Video Impressions: 1M+ video impressions Widgets Distributed: 50+ Widget Impressions: 500k+

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

I have dedicated my life to ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. My work as communications and legislative director for LA City Councilmembers Bill Rosendahl and Mike Bonin prepared me with the skills necessary to navigate the choppy waters of Los Angeles politics.

Even in City Hall, I noticed most professional policymakers couldn’t understand the complex language for ballot propositions. I had an epiphany when the LA Times called me to find out how Councilmember Rosendahl was going to vote on the 2008 election, and it took us over five hours to fill out his ballot. Rosendahl, the first openly gay councilmember in LA history didn’t even know if he should vote YES or NO on Proposition 8, one of the most important votes of his life. I wondered, “If it takes him this long to understand the ballot propositions, how can the average voter be expected to get it?”

SeePolitical is trying to break down the barriers of entry into the political process. In particular, new voters and naturalized immigrants, confront the daunting task of educating themselves on the major policy issues of the day with little or no assistance from our government. Even worse, voters are bombarded with advertisements from proponents and opponents of propositions that confuse and belittle the democratic process.

Making informed decisions on ballot measures is about to become even more confusing for voters following the January 2010 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that unions and corporations are allowed to donate an unlimited amount of funds towards campaign advertising. The Supreme Court made another ruling this year that lifts the cap a wealthy individual can donate to all political candidates.

Unfortunately, Americans are beginning to feel the detrimental effects of an even more muddled and confusing education process. This is another reason why SeePolitical is more necessary now than ever – to bring the balance back.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

SeePolitical has already designed a format and successfully tested our educational videos and mobile technology. We have also forged important distribution partnerships to expand our reach with traditional organizations like the League of Women Voters and online companies like Yelp. We are ready to rock!

During the start-up phase this year, the following major events will occur, some simultaneously:

2 Months: ➢ Obtain $150,000 in first round funding for launch ➢ Solidify partnerships with the initial prospective distribution partners ➢ Hire key personnel and expand SP’s technology teams ➢ Identify all qualified propositions ➢ Begin production for videos for each proposition on the CA November 2014 ballot ➢ Choose content partners for full public launch in time for the November election ➢ Establish branding, design and overall creative direction ➢ Finalize operating procedures ➢ Establish initial marketing campaign ➢ Develop & launch Alpha site

4 Months: ➢ Begin process of raising A round financing through proven success ➢ Solidify creative partnerships with key political and voter-registration organizations for distribution ➢ Finalize Operating Procedures ➢ All proposition animations completed ➢ Launch populated Alpha website and applications ➢ Delivery of vote reminders by next Election Day ➢ Begin process of raising A round financing through proof of concept ➢ Establish plans for scaling to other markets ➢ Social media, publicity and media buying blitz ➢ Finalize partnerships (distribution points and relevant influencers) for next election season

1 Year: ➢ Obtain $750,000 in phase 2 Foundation funding and grants ➢ Expand SeePolitical model to 5 more states ➢ Expand distribution and partnership network ➢ Develop white labeling system for distribution networks ➢ Develop Business analytics monetization avenue ➢ Expand prototypes and thinking for next tier of state launches

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

Our first challenge will be to convince voters and likely voters that their vote counts and a better option is available to learn about what’s on their ballot. Los Angeles already experienced record low voter turnout during the June 2014 primary indicating a lack of enthusiasm and interest in our elections. Voting is not a priority for many people in our city – we believe this is because the information is not being communicated in a dynamic format people in LA have come to expect. It will be challenging to overcome the voter apathy experienced by millions of Angelenos, however, we believe it is a challenge worth facing considering the long-term dire consequences of a disinterested voting population.

We aim to address this serious challenge by partnering with trusted social media partners like Yelp, YouTube, and Facebook, as well as traditional political organizations such as the League of Women Voters, California Common Cause, Head Count, and Voto Latino to distribute our videos and voter tool in order to engage their members/audiences.

Another major challenge will be our ability to raise enough funds to produce high quality educational videos. SeePolitical is in the beginning stages of fundraising and seeking financial contributions to produce our ballot prop videos and distribute them to everyone in this city. Winning this challenge would be a “shot in the arm” and allow us to immediately begin video production ensuring every Angeleno has a clear understanding of their ballot.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach