Prop what? Judge who? State rep whatever? Don't make this rookie voting mistake.

We did it, everybody. After a seemingly endless campaign, we're almost to the finish line. There's just one last thing to do: vote.

The presidential race has taken the spotlight these past months, but it's nowhere near the only thing you'll vote for on Election Day.

Depending on who you ask, it might not even be the most important thing you'll be voting for (and you may not even know it). Overshadowed by the talk of Trump versus Clinton are some really important down-ballot races going on that might determine your next senator, governor, congressperson, and much more.

That's where BallotView comes in.


A view of a ballot scanner at a New York City Board of Elections voting machine facility. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

When it comes to getting information about down-ballot races, finding what you need isn't always easy. BallotView, a website created by five students at the University of Southern California, could change that.

Designed to be a simple, intuitive, and user-friendly way for voters to gather essential election information, BallotView accomplishes what several others have tried throughout the past several years. Visitors to the website simply have to type in their address and they'll be shown what is essentially a sample ballot for all races specific to their federal, state, and local elections.

Even better, the interface provides some background information on candidates and propositions, sourced from Ballotpedia, and allows users to save their completed sample ballot for use on election day.

Photo courtesy of Michael Lim.

Facebook and Twitter recently rolled out similar tools aimed at helping people get the info they need to make informed decisions.

BallotView's creators — Andrew Jiang, Michael Lim, Lucas Johnson, Alex Teboul, and Arush Shankar — want to make sure voters go into the voting booth fully informed.

In California, more than a dozen propositions that have immense consequences for the state are put on the ballot each election. In 2008, for example, the state's voters approved Proposition 8, a measure that revoked same-sex marriage rights from citizens (though this was later overturned by the Supreme Court).

This year is no different with measures dictating the future of the death penalty, a question of whether to ban plastic bags, and questions on the pricing of prescription drugs all up for a vote.

(L to R) Sophomore Andrew Jiang and seniors Michael Lim, Lucas Johnson, Alex Teboul and Arush Shankar created BallotView to appeal to millennial voters across the country this election season. Photo courtesy of Michael Lim.

Down-ballot measures matter in a big, big way.

Yes, the president is an important role, but whether the president will be able to implement much of their agenda depends on which party controls the House of Representatives, the Senate, and even, to some degree, state governorships and legislatures. From what laws will pass to how those laws will be implemented and enforced to what Supreme Court nominees actually make it onto the court, these are areas where down-ballot votes will affect the country.

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

Informed voters are good voters. Good voters make for a more accountable government.

“If people aren’t aware of what is going to be voted on, then it just kind of opens the door for either poorly written legislation or allowing special interest groups to make their way onto the ballot,” explained Lim, an economics and neuroscience student, in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “We’re hoping that our product can help people sift through all the information in a much friendlier and quicker way, so that they don’t feel overwhelmed and [instead] feel empowered.”

Election staff inspect mail-in ballots before scanning them at the King County Department of Elections in Renton, Washington. Photo by Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images.

There's nothing worse (OK, there are actually many things worse) than rolling up to your polling place and not knowing who you're going to vote for. But knowing that is a big deal!

What is Prop 79? Where does this candidate stand on environmental rights? What even IS a comptroller?

If you're going to take part in the democratic process (and hopefully you do because, yes, your voice deserves to be heard), you're going to want to be as informed as possible going into the voting booth. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking — and feeling — a little bit foolish.

How foolish? Well, check out this video put together by the team at BallotView where they asked people what their positions were on a few fake propositions!

That's on the ballot? As this hilarious prank shows, we should all be aware of the other issues on our local ballot. (via ballotview.org)

Posted by Upworthy on Saturday, November 5, 2016
More
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Life for a shelter dog, even if it's a comfortable shelter administered by the ASPCA with as many amenities as can be afforded, is still not the same as having the comfort and safety of a forever home. Professional violinist Martin Agee knows that and that's why he volunteers himself and his instrument to help.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

Believe
True
Macy's