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Ballotpedia

Ballotpedia is seeking a full-time Staff Writer to join the Ballot Measures Team. This is a remote position. It is the job of the staff writer to develop and improve information on a small team focused on covering 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), 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:
On Wednesday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) released an opinion stating that a distribution requirement and some other provisions restricting the state’s initiative process passed in 2018 were unconstitutional.

Nessel’s opinion is binding for state officials unless a court ruling overturns it. The opinion was requested by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), who would have been involved in the enforcement of the new initiative petition rules.

In 2018’s lame-duck legislative session the Michigan State Legislature approved and Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed Michigan House Bill 6595 (now Public Act 608). HB 6595 (PA 608) created a distribution requirement for initiative signature petitions in Michigan limiting the number of signatures collected in any one congressional district to 15% of the total required. This effectively requires valid signatures from a minimum of seven different congressional districts for a successful initiative petition. The bill also required the disclosure on petitions of whether a petitioner is paid or volunteer; mandated a petitioner affidavit; and made other changes regarding petitioners, valid signatures, and the timeline for certification. In the Senate, 26 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, and all 11 Democrats along with one Republican voted against the bill. In the House, Republicans approved the bill 56-5, and Democrats rejected the bill 42-1.

Nessel’s opinion also declared unconstitutional the requirement that petitioners disclose on petition sheets their paid or volunteer status.

[…]

Sixteen other states have a distribution requirement for citizen-initiated measures.

Michigan has divided government with Republicans controlling the state legislature and a Democrat controlling the governor’s office. Michigan has a Democratic Triplex. In the 2018 elections, Democrats took control of the offices of governor, attorney general, and secretary of state—offices held by Republicans going into 2018. The 2018 elections broke an existing Republican trifecta and triplex in Michigan.

In the 2018 election cycle, Michigan voters approved three citizen initiatives:

  • a marijuana legalization initiative;
  • a redistricting commission initiative; and
  • an initiative adding eight voting policies to the Michigan Constitution, including straight-ticket voting, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and no-excuse absentee voting.

Three other initiatives qualified for the 2018 ballot: a minimum wage initiative, a paid sick leave initiative, and an initiative repealing the state’s prevailing wage law. But, using Michigan’s indirect initiative process, the legislature passed the initiatives themselves, thereby precluding an election on them. Then, in December 2018, the legislature amended the minimum wage and paid sick leave initiatives.
Skills
To succeed in this position, you must have the ability to write about complex topics in a neutral, clear, and concise manner. You must have 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. You will demonstrate excellent writing, 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, you must also be able to independently track a large number of news stories and state or county legislative and elections websites.

Qualifications
  • Knowledge of the United States political system and elections are required.
  • Experience as a professional writer and/or editor is preferred.
  • Experience with data entry work, databases, or spreadsheets is preferred.

Environment
The 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 in which every employee is 100% accountable to the results and 100% autonomous over their time. Each employee will be oriented to the principles of Ballotpedia’s flexible environment during new employee training.
Compensation
The starting pay range for a Staff Writer is $33,500 to $40,000 with compensation reviews occurring each December after the completion of an initial review period.
In addition to salary, Ballotpedia offers bonuses based on performance and a $6,500 annual benefits stipend, which 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 $6,500 stipend is taxed as regular income and added to salary.

To Apply
Please attach:
  • résumé
  • cover letter
Please ensure that either your résumé or your cover letter include your current address.

To apply for this job please visit hire.withgoogle.com.