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  TransparentDemocracy Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is TransparentDemocracy?
  2. Where does the information in TransparentDemocracy come from?
  3. What sample ballots are published?
  4. What is a "Preliminary" election ballot?
  5. What criteria does TransparentDemocracy use for including presidential candidates in a "Preliminary" ballot?
  6. In what order are candidates listed in a "Preliminary" election ballot?
  7. What is a "ballot measure" and how does it get on an election ballot?
  8. What is a "proxy" ballot?
  9. What is a "shareholder proposal" and how does it get on a proxy ballot?
  10. What is a "Preliminary" proxy ballot?
  11. What are Sources?
  12. What are Verified Sources?
  13. Can false information be published about Sources and their Positions on contests on ballots?
  14. Does TransparentDemocracy edit information published or reported by Sources?
  15. How does TransparentDemocracy find out if Sources publish information violating your terms and conditions?
  16. Is it possible for someone to publish false information in TransparentDemocracy?
  17. What does it mean when a Source and/or its position is "reported"?
  18. What Sources and Positions does TransparentDemocracy "report" into the TransparentDemocracy System?
  19. What are Meta-Endorsements?
  20. How is TransparentDemocracy paid for?
  21. Can anybody run an advertisement on TransparentDemocracy?
  22. Can anybody run a sponsorship on TransparentDemocracy?
  23. Does TransparentDemocracy screen advertisements for content?
  24. What is a TransparentDemocracy Account?



What is TransparentDemocracy?

TransparentDemocracy is an online service designed to increase trust, communication, accountability, and responsiveness in democratic systems by making it easy for:

(1) people to see how people and organizations they trust recommend they make decisions, and why, and (2) people and organizations to publish and make accessible recommendations about how decisions should be made. TransparentDemocracy includes an online voter guide and an online corporate shareholder proxy voter guide. TransparentDemocracy does not support or oppose any candidates, ballot measures, or shareholder resolutions.

Where does the information in TransparentDemocracy come from?

The sample ballot information for the online voter guide comes from the government agency responsible for the election in the state in which the election is occurring, usually the Secretary of State. The sample ballot information for the online proxy voter guide comes from proxy statements filed by corporations as they appear in the Securities and Exchange Commission EDGAR data base.

The information in the Source column comes from information published by:

(1) the organization or individual identified in the Source column (all organizations and individuals, including candidates and supporters and opponents of ballot measures or shareholder resolutions, have an equal opportunity to publish information on TransparentDemocracy) or
(2) another organization or individual that reported the information about the organization or individual identified in the Source column.

What sample ballots are published?

TransparentDemocracy is initially publishing:

(1) statewide election ballots that include ballot measures or other contests in which we believe we can help voters educate themselves and
(2) shareholder proxy ballots that include contested shareholder proposals - proposals submitted by shareholders and opposed by the company.

What is a "Preliminary" election ballot?

A "Preliminary" election ballot is a ballot that contains some, but not necessarily all, of the contests that will appear on the final "sample" ballot that TransparentDemocracy will eventually publish for a contest. The text of final "sample" ballot is taken directly from the website of the governmental agency that publishes the actual ballot upon which people will vote. The text of a "Preliminary" ballot is also taken directly from the website of the governmental agency that publishes the actual ballot upon which people will vote but it is not the final text, and may not include all of the contests, that will be included on the final ballot that the governmental agency publishes.

What criteria does TransparentDemocracy use for including presidential candidates in a "Preliminary" election ballot?

To be included on a Preliminary Ballot, a presidential candidate must continually meet the following criteria:

  1. File all required paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and receive an FEC ID number.
  2. Have active campaigns operating in more than one state,
  3. According to reports filed with the FEC, exceed $50,000 in individual campaign contributions (excluding his/her own contributions or loans).
  4. File required paperwork with the FEC (a) quarterly, if their campaign has less than $100,000, and (b) monthly, if they have more than $100,000.

In what order are candidates listed in a "Preliminary" election ballot?

Candidates are listed in a Preliminary Ballot in alphabetical order by party.

What is a "ballot measure" and how does it get on an election ballot?

Generally, there are two ways by which ballot measures can appear on statewide election ballots:

(1) 24 states allow citizen to circulate petitions to gather signatures to qualify an initiative to appear on a ballot and
(2) in all states the state government can place a referendum on a ballot for a vote.

What is a "proxy" ballot?

Shareholders in publicly owned U.S. corporations are allowed to vote on certain corporate governance matters, including election of the board of directors, ratification of the appointment of an accounting firm, and other proposals submitted for their consideration by management or other shareholders. A proxy is a written authorization by which a shareholder empowers another person to vote on their behalf at a meeting of stockholders. Proxy voting is commonly used in corporations because it allows shareholders to authorize others to vote for them and for the shareholder meeting to have a quorum of votes when it is difficult for all shareholders to attend.

What is a "shareholder proposal" and how does it get on a proxy ballot?

Shareholders of corporations following certain processes may have proposals put to a vote of the shareholders of a corporation.

What is a "Preliminary" proxy ballot?

A "Preliminary" proxy ballot is a ballot that may contain some, but not necessarily all, of the contests that TransparentDemocracy believes may appear on the final "sample" proxy ballot that TransparentDemocracy will eventually publish for a corporation proxy contest. The initial text of the "preliminary" proxy ballot is the text of the final "sample" ballot for the corporation for the prior year: TransparentDemocracy starts with the corporation's proxy ballot for the prior year because:

(1) most corporations that have shareholder proxy contests one year will have shareholder proxy contests the following year and
(2) many of the shareholder resolutions upon which shareholders vote one year will also be brought before the shareholders of that corporation the following year.

The text of final "sample" proxy ballot is the final version of the proxy ballot for the corporation taken directly from the website of the governmental agency - the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) - that publishes the actual ballot upon which people will vote.

What are Sources?

Sources are organizations or individuals that have taken either a "yes", "no", or "neutral" position on a contest on a ballot.

What are Verified Sources?

Verified Sources are Sources that have submitted a signed agreement to TransparentDemocracy to verify their identify in order to give greater assurance to users of TransparentDemocracy that they are who they claim they are.

Can false information be published about Sources and their Positions on contests on ballots?

Yes. TransparentDemocracy encourages Sources to verify themselves to provide greater assurance to users that they are who they claim they are, however, TransparentDemocracy cannot guarantee that every Source that verifies itself is in fact who it claims it is, there are currently no foolproof security systems. If a Source chooses to not verify its identity, there is less assurance that that Source is who it claims it is. When it comes to the attention of TransparentDemocracy, usually from reports from users of the system, that someone has published or reported a false position of a Source, TransparentDemocracy will remove the false publication.

Does TransparentDemocracy edit information published or reported by Sources?

TransparentDemocracy does not edit information published or reported by Sources but TransparentDemocracy will remove information published or reported by Sources that violates our terms and conditions.

How does TransparentDemocracy find out if Sources publish information violating your terms and conditions?

TransparentDemocracy becomes aware of information published or reported by Sources that violates our terms and conditions if (1) a user alerts us of the violation or (2) our software identifies the violation.

Is it possible for someone to publish false information in TransparentDemocracy?

Yes. TransparentDemocracy does not undertake to judge which information published here is true and which is not, rather, TransparentDemocracy seeks to provide a platform in which users are free to pursue the truth and judge information published and reported by sources, and in doing so are guided by the following observations:


"The truth is found when men are free to pursue it." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936
"A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people." - John F. Kennedy

What does it mean when a Source and/or its position is "reported"?

When a Source and/or its position is "reported" it means that that Source and/or its positions has been reported and published into TransparentDemocracy by another Source that is Verified.

What Sources and Positions does TransparentDemocracy "report" into the TransparentDemocracy System?

TransparentDemocracy only "reports" into the TransparentDemocracy system the "Positions" of "Sources" for ballot measure contests on election ballots and for management and shareholder resolutions on proxy ballots, TransparentDemocracy does not publish the "Positions" of "Sources" in candidate contests on election ballots except for information published by other 501c3 organizations that is associated with a "neutral" position on a candidate. TransparentDemocracy "reports" the Positions of Sources to "seed" the system with content to

(1) test the system:
(2) provide valuable content for initial users of the system: and
(3) demonstrate how the system works to initial users of the system.

TransparentDemocracy uses the following criteria in selecting Sources whose positions on Statewide Ballot measures it reports:

  1. The "qualified" political parties in the state according to the governmental agency responsible for making that determiniation, e.g. the California Secretary of State
  2. Statewide elected officials.
  3. Presidential candidates.
  4. The nominees of "qualified" political parties for statewide office.
  5. High profile (in statewide media) policy and media organizations with a history of providing ballot measure endorsements in past elections. This last criterion is obviously somewhat subjective and will likely evolve over time.

What are Meta-Endorsements?

A Meta-Endorsement is an endorsement made by one Source of the position taken by another Source.

How is TransparentDemocracy paid for?

TransparentDemocracy is a 501c3 whose operations to date have been funded by charitable donations. TransparentDemocracy hopes to become financially self-sufficient from user donations, sponsorships and advertisements.

Can anybody run an advertisement on TransparentDemocracy?

Yes, the ability to place advertisements on TransaprentDemocracy is available to anyone, including candidates and supporters and opponents of ballot measures, on an equal basis.

Can anybody run a sponsorship on TransparentDemocracy?

As long as it satisfies criteria defining a sponsorship set forth by the Internal Revenue Service, anybody can run a sponsorship on TransparentDemocracy.

Does TransparentDemocracy screen advertisements for content?

TransparentDemocracy uses Google AdManager and AdSense to generate advertisements, which are subject to the content policies found at http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/static.py?page=guidelines.cs&topic=9271&subtopic=9279&hl=en

What is a TransparentDemocracy Account?

A TransparentDemocracy Account allows users to do several things, including: (1) receive emails from TransparentDemocracy letting them know when a ballot for an election or shareholder election is available for their viewing, (2) maintain a list of ballots they have reviewed: (3) maintain a list of Sources they use to screen ballot contests, (4) take positions on ballot contests, (5) use the Alert system to inform TransparentDemocracy of features or content they would like to be included in TransparentDemocracy or of problems they experience.




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