Elections Staff Writer

Ballotpedia is a team of fast learners who are eager to work hard to make the world a better place. We believe the world would be a better place if every voter cast an informed vote in every election in which he or she is eligible to vote. We work to present the available information about elections, candidates, judges, ballot measures, and more in a way that enables our readers to vote with confidence and to act as engaged citizens outside of the polling booth.

Ballotpedia readers, like Ballotpedia staff, are special people. And in 2016, we got curious enough about what made our readers special to commission an in-depth study to answer that question. Here’s an excerpt from the conclusion:

Readers are characterized by their decision to run toward knowledge, instead of retreating. This sense of “onward” characterizes the Ballotpedia readers—they recognized a problem with the media they had been consuming and sought out a different way.

Readers have found and continue to find our articles in droves. It turns out there is an unclaimed audience out there—people who want straightforward facts about political issues, and are willing to read at length instead of just scanning the headlines. 

We’re discovering “If you build it, they will come” applies to our work engaging and informing voters: our readers come to our neutral oasis in growing numbers; by 2016, fully 20 percent of American voters read one or more of Ballotpedia’s 250,000+ encyclopedic articles in the six weeks leading up to election day. Mostly, they came from Google. Google has always loved our detailed, well-sourced articles, because their algorithm is excellent at figuring out what their searchers are after. 

That search engine dominance got us past one BILLION lifetime pageviews in September 2018, and helped make us the 92nd most-visited website in the U.S. during the month surrounding the November 2018 midterms.

We scarcely had an email list before 2016. We now have over 250,000 subscribers on more than a dozen separate lists. We are working in numerous ways to help put our neutral information in front of people at the times when they most need it. We firmly believe that our readers, and the mindset we help them cultivate, are essential, as too many others in our industry are fighting to get us all addicted to sensational clickbait headlines and the irrational decisions they foster.

And, with all that, we’re just getting started, knowing that the opportunities and growth ahead are limitless. If this is a mission you’d be willing to work hard to achieve, and if this is a team you’d be willing to work hard with, join us.

The Position
Ballotpedia is seeking full-time Staff Writers to join our Elections Team. Ballotpedia’s Elections Team researches, curates, and neutrally presents the basic facts and data about tens of thousands of races and candidates in every two-year cycle, with primaries and local elections happening somewhere in every month of every year. This consists of extensive research, direct outreach to external sources, data entry and use of a database/spreadsheets, data analysis, writing and using documentation, and content creation. Applicants should know that the day-to-day work typically feels more like data entry than journalism. Ballotpedia has a unique production model, and you are encouraged to learn more here.

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 readers and donors, and you must strive to develop expertise in your subject and the inner workings of your project.

Responsibilities
As an Elections Staff Writer, you will be:

  • Contributing to the full election coverage lifecycle (election date research → writing election overview articles → covering candidate filing deadlines → election content build-up → adding election results → processing officeholder swearing-ins/outs)
  • Conducting systematic research to collect data related to officeholders, candidates, and elections; data points will include but are not limited to campaign or official website addresses, social media links, and upcoming election dates
  • Using and mastering complex tools such as templates, spreadsheets, and our database
  • Maintaining a quality focus while handling high-volume rote activities such as data entry
  • Using and generating complex procedure checklist documentation to perform key tasks
  • Following carefully laid out processes, systems, and procedures as assigned by editors and supervisors
  • Understanding which content requires standardization and which requires originality
  • Innovating to improve work processes and to enhance content quality
  • Generating content about complex topics in a neutral, clear, and concise manner
  • Writing promotional content for Ballotpedia’s newsletters and videos
  • Learning and mastering Ballotpedia’s taxonomy of bias, including preparing for and attending annual bias training
  • Learning from and applying feedback given by others, such as in Master Classes
  • Editing content from multiple perspectives to unearth new improvement opportunities
  • Proofreading content effectively, efficiently, and consistently
  • Fixing error assignments within 24 hours
  • Gaining subject matter expertise
  • Conducting research efficiently and seeking out the best possible sources
  • Interacting with co-workers, customers, and the media in a professional, helpful, and pleasant manner

What are the metrics for success for an Elections Staff Writer?
  • The team’s percentage of deadlines met
  • A low severe error rate as measured by the Quality team
  • Number of pages edited and number of database edits

Skills
What are the five most important characteristics for an Elections Staff Writer?

  • They enjoy organizing their own lives and the world around them. They maintain orderly habits and perceive external disorder as an opportunity to innovate and improve.
  • They learn quickly and adjust to changes easily. They thrive in a world of constant iteration and feed into the cycle instead of slowing it down.
  • They love to find the story and tell it well. They can discern which elections have stories worth telling and showcase them in the most compelling manner possible.
  • They can look at our content from different points of view. They understand how customers with different political beliefs, needs, or priorities would perceive our content. 
  • They are capable of detaching from their writing and applying a high degree of critical scrutiny to their work. They self-edit constantly and have personal standards of quality, attention to detail, and accuracy that are unshakable. 

To succeed in this position, you must have the ability to find obscure data, organize it effectively, and record it accurately on a consistent basis. 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 must be comfortable with data entry, rote work, work tracking, and the use of a database and spreadsheets. You must be able to write about complex topics in a neutral, clear, and concise manner.

You will demonstrate excellent organizational skills, professional writing and proofreading ability, and familiarity with the use of style guides. Ballotpedia has its own style guide that is based on the AP Stylebook

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

Environment
The Elections Staff Writer will work remotely from his or her 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 the Elections Staff Writer is $33,500 to $40,000 and commensurate with experience; compensation reviews occur 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
To apply, visit the Ballotpedia job opportunities page and fill out the form.

Please attach:
  • résumé
  • cover letter detailing your interest in Ballotpedia’s mission and this position

Please ensure that either your résumé or your cover letter include your current address.

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