As a public service to voters, ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy has prepared a series of briefings intended to clarify and explain the 10 propositions on November’s general election ballot. Kristin Borns, a senior policy analyst for the Institute, discusses the reports that are available online.
Ted Simons: As a public service to voters, the Morrison institute for public policy has prepared a series of briefings intended to clarify and explain the ten propositions on November's ballot. The proposition briefings are available on-line. Here to talk about the project is Kristin Borns, senior policy analyst at the Morrison institute. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Kristin Borns: Thank you.
Ted Simons: What was the goal behind this project?
Kristin Borns: What we really wanted to do was let voters know exactly what it is they're voting on. Here in Arizona we tend to have a really full ballot. Especially from people who come from out of state, it may be unusual to see 10, 12, 15 propositions. This year there are 10 propositions, many that are really critical to Arizona's future. So we wanted to be a nonpartisan rhetoric-free voice that allowed voters to get all the information they needed to make the best decision they could make at the polls.
Ted Simons: You mentioned nonpartisan. Obviously ensuring balance is key here. How do you do it?
Kristin Borns: Certainly we're a research team. We have more than one individual edit. I think the real key here is, when you go to the briefings, we were very thoughtful, one, to take no stance. You'll notice we don't endorse them either way. Also to lay out the pros and cons. When you come to the briefing, you're getting the arguments of both sides of the issue. So by naturally presenting both of those, you sort of head off at the pass any concerns you're weighing your opinion one way or the other.
Ted Simons: We should mention, we do proposition debates here on "Horizon." We always try to make sure both sides get heard even when they're attacking each other which they want to do at times. Is that a challenge? Who writes all of these?
Kristin Borns: I was one of the primary authors. We have a research team, senior researchers were all involved. You know, we are very mindful and thoughtful of our role as a public policy institution. And what our goal is, is to have effective public policy and to have voters be thoughtful, mindful and prepared. So for us knowing that's where we're starting from makes it easier to distill down the factual, nonpartisan information that voters are going to need.
Ted Simons: Yet there's a lot to distill. Sometimes you have charts, graphs, nomenclature that no one can understand. How do you wade through all of that?
Kristin Borns: We're fortunate that we have the research team there to work together. When a voter goes to the ballot, on the ballot is distilled down to a couple of sentences what you're voting on. So we really focused on looking historically, where did this proposition come from? Have voters weighed in on this before? Medical marijuana, voters have seen that twice on a ballot. What are some of the stated consequences? Also, what are maybe some of the unintended consequences? Pulling all of that together in one place, it's on our website, it's very simple, two to three pages and really getting that all in one place for voters.
Ted Simons: I was going to say. Navigate the website. Talking about medical marijuana, somebody says I would like to learn more about that, I've seen it on "Horizon." I would like to learn more about the pros and cons. They go to the website, how many clicks do they have to go?
Kristin Borns: Easy, easy. We have sort of a rotating carousel right on the front. The very first thing you're going to see on the center of our home page is propositions. You can click on that and it will take you to a menu of all ten so you can click from there which ones you want to read. Along the top as well, we have a banner of different places you can go to. Reports, staff. One of those direct links as well, proposition. It's one click no matter where you are on the home page to get to the menu of all ten briefings.
Ted Simons: Has the Morrison institute done this kind of thing in the past?
Kristin Borns: We're certainly vested in public policy, have written on that throughout our entire existence. But really focusing on propositions is something we have taken on strongly this year just because there are so many and there are so many big issues. You know, voters are looking at sun sweeps which could result -- I know you had the growing smarter debate last night. Funds that sweep care and education. These are important things that are going on on the November ballot.
Ted Simons: Obviously because these are public policy issues, you can kind of do a pro and con there and not get too deep into personality. Is there a thought of doing this same kind of thing for political candidates?
Kristin Borns: Really because we focus on the policy, during the legislative session, for example, we're very mindful to focus on the legislation and the budgets. We do a tremendous amount of work around the budget every session. And if you get into sort of the issue of personalities, you miss the bigger story. So we're very thoughtful to focus on what is the bigger story? What is good and smart public policy? And what does Arizona need?
Ted Simons: Continuing effort here, will we see this in upcoming elections as well?
Kristin Borns: I think we've had a tremendous response to this. We've had an opportunity to talk to "Horizon" which we appreciate. This has really been the most popular thing on our website. We've seen an uptick on hits. As we look out for propositions, if this is a benefit to voters having this out there, we want to continue to provide that service.
Ted Simons: While we have you there, talk about the Morrison institute, the history, the goals. What goes on behind the organization? What you're looking to do.
Kristin Borns: We here at ASU, we're a nonpartisan institutional think tank. We're not only providing public policy data information, but also be a part of the public dialogue where these kind of briefings and briefings take it to the next step which is letting folks know. We have a great amount of research. If people aren't using it and reading it, that's kind of that next step. So that's really part of what we do as well.
Ted Simons: I know the engagement is bigger than Morrison institute as well. From where you sit, what needs to be done in Arizona to improve on that? It just seems like folks, a lot of complaining, yelling and shouting. It seems like a lot of folks aren't engaged here.
Kristin Borns: Certainly we've seen voter turnout numbers. It's interesting this primary, we've had the highest numbers we've seen with still 30%. We've recently done a poll that asked voters kind of how they felt about their representatives, how they felt about the state of the state. One thing that did come out of that is a real desire for open primaries. Nonpartisan open primaries. That is what we were told when we put that survey out in the field. So there seems to be from Arizonans maybe a hunger for those kinds of things right now.
Ted Simons: So again, let's get back to the proposition and the website. The web address is --
Kristin Borns: It's Morrison institute.ASU.edu. You'll see the prompts on the home page. You'll see them there and you'll get to them immediately.
Ted Simons: Thanks for being here. Good luck with the website and keep fighting the good fight.
Kristin Borns: Thank you.
Kristin Borns:Senior Policy Analyst, ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy;