Shaping Youth with an intelligent vote

intellvote.jpgHow many times have you received a ‘sample ballot’ and groaned at the conniving spins and political backwash to the point where it takes full concentration whether to even check ‘yes or no’ because of the way the dang thing is written?

Face it, rather than read the endless ‘rebuttal to argument in favor of xyz’ prose, many busy people now scan the measure, skip to the end, see WHO is supporting it and call it a day.

C’mon, you know you do this. It’s a hopscotch solution that works.

Want another quick way to decide whether to ‘throw the bums out’ when it comes to incumbent issues?

There’s a new online tool called Intelligent Vote that compares your key concerns with your representative’s voting record, to ‘cut to the chase’ and see whether they’re helping or hindering the causes that matter to you most!

This info-driven web wonder takes about ten minutes for you to create a profile of issues you’re tracking, and with a quick click you now can have the scoop on whether your senate and congressional representatives aligned with your views.

I’m admittedly a bit goosey about the privacy of a cyberprint political profile, so caveat emptor, but for Shaping Youth’s kids’ concerns it’s a cool tool…

Sure beats those flyers and telemarketing calls slamming voting records often pulled out of context. After all, fling-fests are common in the world of dirty politics.

Online algorithms can only go so far too. Context DOES matter, so you’ll need to delve deeper to comprehend nuances of a politician’s decision to vote a certain way.

Think of Intelligent Voter as a helpful aid, akin to a ‘cliff notes’ synopsis rather than a cheat sheet of grab-n-go platitudes.

They don’t pretend to be overly thorough or replace doing your homework, but realistically, it’s sure better than voting as many do, “yeah, I’ve heard of that guy before, I’ll check the box here,” or voting based on surname, gender, or job type.

Their online tool tracks back six years, and if it starts to get enough traffic to bring the masses onboard with ease, I’m guessing more people might even engage, impose their influence and even force some political accountability on kids’ issues.

Hey, it’s a beginning…I’m for anything that holds feet to the fire with consequences for foul-ups, blunders, and backroom deals by tracking voting records.

Seeing how a politician is REALLY voting on issues of concern to you can expose who’s behind what, where the money and support is coming from and start taking some Windex to those smoke-n-mirrors.

Just think! Kids’ issues currently cobbed up in lobbyist rhetoric, could be stripped down to the barebones of influence-peddling in arenas like junk food, the tobacco industry, commercialism in schools, and even media management…woohoo!

It still calls for an understanding of the text (& subtext!) of what they’re voting on, as some of the TITLES of the bills can really throw you!

Look no further than the ‘Dopey DOPA Act‘ as many academics call it. DOPA stands for Delete Online Predators Act…sounds worthy, yes?

Read the fine print and the wording yourself to see why so many non-politicians opposed it.

It passed with flying colors in the House…who would want to vote against a name like that?

Ah, rose-colored glasses and first blush judgment calls…Here’s a ‘DOPA-watch‘ blog tracking the current status of the bill and all issues surrounding it.

Shaping Youth deconstructs media messaging like this from all sides to try to keep a clear, balanced view with nonpartisan parity.

That way we can’t be coined as ‘watchdogs, corporate do-gooders, pro/con media,’ policy wonks & such…because we report on ‘all of the above’ as the voice of the massive middle!

Sometimes we’re just here to lift the veil and reveal the underbelly of why positive messages are trumped by negative ones so often…

As Common Sense Media so aptly stated, we’re nonpartisan, but we’re very ‘kidpartisan,’ looking at how issues affect children’s physical, mental, social and emotional health.

Our website says it all:

Shaping Youth is a nonprofit, with no political, religious, or censorship agenda. Our only ‘cause’ is the emotional and physical well-being of children.

We think that’s well worth voting for!

Here are a few other quick tip sites, particularly helpful to California voters:

Smart Voter: So far only avail in Ca, Ohio, NY, presented by the League of Women Voters

Guide to Government: A very new beta-style preview for local issue coverage in key Ca. counties, via zipcode

Project Vote Smart: A comprehensive database covering candidates and elected officials in five basic categories: biographical information, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances and interest group ratings

Intelligent Vote: This is a streamlined snapshot of incumbent voter records based on your own personal profile of what issues matter to you



  1. Steven Richards says

    Nice suggestions to improve literacy re voting decisions. I already tried intelligentvote and found it quite interesting as it seems nicely unbiased, and I feel a bit better prepared for tomorrow. Of course it’s always worthwhile to find out what groups are behind a “voter assistance” effort, so as to hopefully be aware of nudges in bias that are likely to be present. Thanks!

  2. Clearly you have the same concerns as I do re: nonpartisan platforms & propaganda potential, thus the caveat emptor, and my ongoing due dilligence continuing here.

    I’m still doing more recon in terms of why it’s a “.com” rather than a “.org” (though often that’s a formality because people hate the 501c3 bureaucracy, & PRNewswire said they’re only asking for donations/interested in site continuancy for ACCOUNTABILITY which is a huge plus in my book) That said, I’m still unearthing data on the financial analyst/physics grad student behind the effort, as ‘privacy/profiling’ carries some gravity if misused.

    I found an org called “open secrets” that appears to tag the head of the effort as an “independent,” & his wife may serve as a board member for a nonprofit financial literacy org out of Houston. Love the internet, nowhere to hide.

    Rest assured I’ll update my post if I smell any rats or find any vested interests in the voter assistance realm.

    Thanks for the like-minded guardedness. On more than one occasion, Shaping Youth has been ‘targeted’ as a mouthpiece for red AND blue state folks; yet my words are NOT for sale. Much oblige, Amy

  3. I should also add that PC magazine had a much pithier description of Intelligent Voter when they applauded the concept as their ‘site of the week’—Their media references prompted me to include it here for a smile…

    “Sure your average American voter now has fifteen 24 hour news stations, but with 500 other channels beckoning them from the comfort of their La-Z-Boy, the prospect of being screamed at by well-manicured talking heads just doesn’t have the same appeal of Dancing with the Stars. I welcome anything that makes informed-voting as quick and relatively-painless as possible for the average citizen.”

    PC Mag also included the great quote by Winston Churchill, “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

  4. Steven Richards says

    I appreciate the follow-up, and Sir Winston absolutely has a point, as I have more than once found myself playing ‘pin the tail on the ballot’, which is a pretty poor excuse for democratic participation. We can and must do better.

  5. Mini-update: I’ve contacted the owner of the site to get his input firsthand Re: his ongoing progress, intended outcomes & backstory. Stay tuned…

  6. Amy, thank you for your very nice coverage of

    My education background is physics and finance and I currently work as a financial analyst. My motivation for this started about eight years ago. For some reason I became very interested in what the U.S. govt did and how good
    they are at doing it. It took me a couple of years to cover thousands of pages from books, bills, etc. I concluded that we dont get very good government…and I didnt like the trends that I was seeing. I also concluded, and I have no doubt here, that much of the direction of the country is influenced by well funded special interest groups. I feel that the majority of politicians are honest,but are heavily biased. When folks give you $5-$6 million for a senate race, it seems reasonable that they will expect something in return.

    I created the site as a tool for the average American (who doesn’t have alot of time or interest in politics) to hold their elected officials accountable. The site will evolve. It can be used to vote on issues important to the American
    people before the vote as well as look-back at election time. We also will try to include non-biased expert views of certain bills. But I will insist on keeping the amount of stuff on the site to be reasonable. Too much stuff will
    scare many away.I really like your site and will put it on my list of sites to frequent.If you are interested, I will include you on future e-mail distributions.

    Thanks again for your kind review.

    Vince Couch

  7. Steven Richards says

    Seems like Vince is on the level, but the tool actually speaks for itself pretty well. I’m anxious to see where he goes with it over time, and I may even send him a dollar or two as encouragement. Thanks for tracking it.

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