Voter Information Project exists to provide information for local voters from a non-partisan viewpoint: Candidates' views and values in their own words; Pros and cons on ballot issues; Information from professionals on judges.
Over the years, Voter Information Project has morphed in name and activity, but not in purpose. In short, we strive to enable voters to make informed decisions. If it's on the ballot, we cover it: Candidates, ballot issues, and judges.
Believing that “personal principles push political policies," we seek to learn from a candidate, not just his/her political views, but WHO he/she is as a person. Why someone holds a particular view gives better information about how they will approach issues no one knows to ask about. We simply report the responses they give us, no editing of content, no endorsing, just reporting.
Job Descriptions of the office the candidate is seeking help the voters determine if they think the candidate is qualified to run for that position.
Sometimes a grass roots organization will gather the necessary number of signatures on an initiative they want the people to vote on to become law or even sometimes to amend the Nebraska Constitution. A recent example was when the Legislature voted to eliminate the death penalty and the people voted to put it back in. Other ballot issues are put on the ballot by the Legislature, the school district, the city, or even a village seeking to establish an increase in sales tax for example. Any government entity can propose something for the people in that locality to vote upon.
Typically both citizen initiatives and government entity proposals are written in “legalese,” which we attempt to translate objectively into English. By interviewing those in favor and those against, we provide the history behind the issue and provide the pros and cons on the topic.
Our third area of focus is on judges. Typically, average law-abiding citizens have no reason to see a judge, so it can be difficult for a voter to know whether they would like to retain a judge. By anonymously interviewing lawyers, law enforcement personnel, and other professionals who observe the judges at work, we provide voters with a variety of informed perspectives.
Our project is non-partisan, totally volunteer, and non-profit. Our 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status was awarded in November 2013, retroactively to November 2011 when we officially incorporated as a non-profit entity in the state of Nebraska.
What began in 1992 as a printed “voters guide” serving only a small part of Sarpy County and some of Douglas, gradually grew as more volunteers joined in. 1998 saw our first web appearance. We never intended to do any “guiding” only informing so the name was changed to Voters Information Packet, reflecting the large packets of papers required to provide the extensive information we collected. In 2011, the Nebraska Secretary of State gave a "Civics Recognition Award" to our executive director. In 2012, it was time to change the name again, to “Voter Information Project,” as we were now primarily web-based rather than print-based, and were no longer handing out large “packets” of papers! We do still produce individualized paper copies, but only by request.
1992 - Parts of eastern Sarpy and Douglas Counties.
1994 - added Plattsmouth, Papillion, LaVista while continuing Bellevue and a few more races in Douglas
1996 - started covering ballot issues and a few judges
1998 - Sarpy, east Douglas, Cass Counties - first website
2000 - added parts of Washington and Lancaster Counties, statewide judges
2002 - added Seward County when a volunteer called and said her group would do the races in their county, more judges, covered statewide races.
2004-2010 - included Omaha and Lincoln city races, every race in the 6 counties (Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, Lancaster, Washington, Seward)
2012 - introduction of NEW website - beginning of personalized list of races for voters
2014 – voters closer to totally personal information, volunteers able to enter candidate responses online
2016 – totally personalized for voters, candidates able to answer directly online, added Dodge County
2018 – candidates able to print a copy of what they answered
2020 – created new homepage – much easier for voter to enter personal information to access just the races/issues/judges appearing on the ballot.
2021 – made questionnaires be modified multiple choice instead of all essay answers.