Now that the dust has settled from the 2016 election, MapLight is pleased to share a detailed assessment of Voter’s Edge, our comprehensive, nonpartisan online guide to federal, state, and local elections in California, Illinois, and New York. The results are in, and during a record-breaking year for usage, Voter’s Edge motivated nearly three in four users to cast votes for more offices on their ballot.
Voter's Edge was used over 2.3 million times
Moving forward, we’re using this and other information we’ve uncovered in the process of completing our assessment to evaluate what was successful 2016, allowing us to inform future growth and gain insight into the needs and behaviors of voters. We hope that this report will prove informative and useful to other groups in the field of civic engagement.
Since the last election, MapLight has expanded our successful Voter’s Edge California model to cover two new states—Illinois and New York. This expansion allowed us to improve the user experience, test new systems of data collection, and reach a wider audience than ever before. Our in-depth evaluation of this expansion paints an encouraging picture of Voter’s Edge’s success in all three states.
Voter’s Edge users overwhelmingly found the site useful and impactful
- An online survey of site users showed that Voter’s Edge increased respondents’ likelihood of voting in more races, with 74% reporting that they would vote for more offices and leave fewer blank.
- Users found Voter’s Edge to be very valuable, with 89% rating the site “very” or “extremely” useful.
- It also prompted more discussion of voting choices, with 64% of respondents reporting that they would be “more” or “much more” likely to discuss their voting choices with others after using the site.
- All of these metrics showed significant improvement over 2014.
More people than ever used Voter’s Edge to learn more about their ballots
- Across the primaries and the general election, Voter's Edge was used over 2.3 million times, empowering over 1.9 million people to cast more informed votes.
- In the general election, 1.2 million Californians used the site—the equivalent of one in 12 California voters. In addition, over 100,000 people visited the Spanish-language version of Voter’s Edge California.
We saw promising starts in Illinois and New York, new markets for Voter’s Edge and MapLight, with over 80,000 site visitors from each state.
- In every state, site usage and engagement increased from the primaries through the general election.
We successfully refined our California model to scale Voter’s Edge to new markets
- In order to match addresses to ballots, we built a unique and comprehensive database of districts and elected offices in California, Illinois, and New York, providing basic information on at least 11,000 candidates.
- We saw significant rates of candidate participation. In 2016, over 43% of California candidates participated on the site (thanks to our partnership with the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund), while 17% of Illinois candidates and 7% of New York candidates participated.
- Forty-two partners—including NBC, ABC, Telemundo, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the NYC Campaign Finance Board—created customized subdomains, greatly expanding the reach of Voter’s Edge.
Based on the results of our assessment, it’s clear that Voter’s Edge succeeded in making a powerful impact on users in California, Illinois, and New York. If you’d like to learn more about our findings, you can read our full assessment here.
MapLight examined real-world user demand and usage of Voter's Edge to learn which types of voter information are most useful to voters. We used Google Analytics to study web traffic and site behavior, online site surveys to ascertain user demographics and feedback, discussions with partners to evaluate our widgets and API, and in-depth user testing to collect detailed user impressions of the content and interface of the site. New to our 2016 assessment, we added sections examining our new systems of data collection as well as our new outreach strategies.