Urban Go-Team 2014

Adventures in Elections & Voting

June 9, 2014
by Allison
Comments Off on Top 5 Voting & Elections Resources

Top 5 Voting & Elections Resources

Go-Team 2014 may be winding down, but our adventures in voting & elections are just getting started. We all need accurate, detailed info to be informed citizens, so here are five of our favorite web resources. They cover just about everything you’ll need to know about the issues, candidates, procedures, and background on upcoming elections. Thank you so much to Jasen, Kate, and the other students who contributed to this list!

1.) Start with the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office for the most up-to-date, accurate, objective Missouri-focused data.



There’s also an interactive district map that will give you a full view of all the relevant political districts in Missouri. The Missouri “Blue Book” has incredibly detailed information about state/local/federal government, including hierarchy breakdowns of each branch of government, all the departments of state government, and other really valuable information

Missouri Secretary of State Office: Elections and Voting: https://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/

Interactive District Maps: https://ogi.oa.mo.gov/LEGIS/LegislativeDistrict/index.html

“Blue Book”: http://www.sos.mo.gov/bluebook/2013-2014/

2.) If you want a more interactive guide/election info customized based on your address, check out Project Vote Smart (@VoteSmart).

Enter your zip code/address on the front page to see the important elections specific to where you live.

Enter your zip code/address on the front page to see the important elections specific to where you live.

“Project Vote Smart…hopes to help United States citizens to investigate and track political candidates and government officials, as well as legislative bills and key votes. Project Vote Smart’s primary tool is VoteEasy which helps users find candidates who best align with their position on certain issues.” – https://www.djangosites.org/s/votesmart-org/

3.) The iSideWith.com quiz lets you see what candidates and political parties are most in alignment with your values and views. 

Political personality quiz!

Political personality quiz!

4.) 270 to Win  is a great data visualization tool, offering an interactive map of the electoral college votes per state for each presidential elections.


5.) The New Organizing Institute maintains a 50-state elections rules map, where you can search and compare rules about voter registration deadline, absentee voting, available ballot languages, and other vital voting rules across the country. 

Select the state you want to learn more about...

Select the state you want to learn more about…


...and find out what you need to know

…and find out what you need to know

These resources should be good for getting you started. Once you have worked through these, here’s a comprehensive voting and election resource guide from Drexel University.

Anything were forgetting? Let us know what resources you use to stay informed!

June 8, 2014
by Maddie
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Final Wrap Up: Maddie

Once again, I LOVED URBAN GO TEAM!!!  I had so much fun listening to speakers, exploring St. Louis, getting to meet new friends, making my own political ads, and really diving into the election process as a whole!  I find making ads to be really intriguing because there are so many different ways to produce a unique ad.  I used videos, pictures, PowerPoint slides, and voice overs to produce two different ads: one in favor of guns in schools and one against guns in schools.  So glad that I got to be a part of Urban Go team 2014.  I’m not sure where I see myself in the future or if I’ll end up in a political career.  But, one things for sure, I’ll continue to be an Active Citizen!

June 6, 2014
by Katherine
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Final Reflection

Overall, I loved Urban GO team. If we had more time, I would like to hear from a campaign staff member and other “behind the scenes” workers. After this experience, I am considering going into a field that involves politics and am open to volunteering in a campaign. I think my favorite part of Urban Go team was the panel, but I also loved everything else including the ad project. This project taught me the thinking behind ad making and how much work and money can be put into an ad. I had a lot of fun and made a lot of new friends through this project and the whole experience. Can’t wait for the movie night! 🙂

June 6, 2014
by Bobbi
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Photos from Day 3

The photos from day 3 of Urban Go-Team are no where near as interesting as day 2, but here they all. It was a wonderful day and it looks like everyone had fun.

June 6, 2014
by Bobbi
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Photos from Day 2

Here are some pics from Day 2 of urban Go-Team. Many thanks to our guest speakers Charlie Dooley, Reggie Finney, Tracy McCreery, Stacey Newman, and Linda Rallo.


June 6, 2014
by Allison
Comments Off on [Video] So you want to be a Political Operative

[Video] So you want to be a Political Operative

A really realistic (if slightly snarky!) Xtranormal video of how get work in politics. Hint: It’s more about paying your dues than trying to copy-cat characters from the West Wing. What do you think about what the characters have to say?

June 6, 2014
by Allison
Comments Off on That’s a Wrap! [End-of-the-Week Blogging Activity]

That’s a Wrap! [End-of-the-Week Blogging Activity]

Hi Go-Team! Thank you for such a fantastic week. Now that you’ve had a couple of days to think over the experience, we’d love for you to share one last reflection on the experience. As always, feel free to write whatever you want. Here are some optional prompts to get you started:
  1. Your ad-making experience. What issue(s) did you and/or your team focus on? Where you for or against it, and how did you decide which side/issue to go with? How did working on the ad change your perspective on the issue itself?
  2. Did you take the iSideWith Quiz? (Thanks to Jasen for linking to that!) What do you think of your results? What about the questions they asked? What did you learn about yourself and your political leanings from this quiz? What other sort of political personality quizzes might be cool?
  3.  If you had an extra day/week/month for Go-Team, what would you want to do? Would you stick with the elections them, or choose another–and if the later, what theme(s) would you want to explore. Have fun with this–we might use this feedback to plan future Go-Teams!
  4. Do you think you’d like to work in politicseither as an elected official, or even as a poll worker, political consultant, ad agent, a legislative staffer, etc.?  How did this weeks experience change how you thought about political careers? The Hill, a reality show that follows the inner working of a U.S. Congressman’s office, offers a glimpse into the lives of real-world Congressional staffers–young people just a little older than you who make up the backbone of the Washington D.C. political industry. Check out this hilarious/really honest cartoon, So you want to be a political operative, too. What do you think of these perspectives?
  5. General wrap-up. Congratulations on finishing the program! What connections and/or contradictions did you see between the past three days–like between what you learned at the Board of Elections, and what various panelists had to say. Overall, what did you like/not like/found most thought provoking/etc.
  6. Anything else you’d like to learn or get involved with? We’re putting together a resource page on the blog. You all already made some great suggestions about what to include, like 270toWin.com (electoral college map)iSideWith.com (political preference quiz), and VoteSmart (in-depth, customized info on candidates/issues/elections). Feel free to let us know if there’s anything else that would be useful to you. 


June 4, 2014
by Kate
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Day Two: Kate

I had another great day with Go-Team! We started off the morning with a really interesting and informative panel discussion with different levels of local politicians.  They talked about mainly focused on campaigning during the talk but then afterwards they stayed after to have smaller more personal conversations with each of us. I think that they were all genuine people who were all very passionate about serving their community and working on the issues that they think are important. It was also interesting to hear from the various levels of politicians. We spoke with a newly-elected city councilman, a newly-elected aldermen, two Missouri state representatives, and the county executive.  They all were so different in the their passions and what lead them to run but at the same time had a lot of similar things to say on campaigning.  They were so polite, professional and at the same time you could tell that they really wanted to be there teaching the next generation what they deemed valuable in regards to politics. I also got all of my questions answered which is always a plus!

After the panel discussion, we had a chance to enter in all our data from polling the previous day. I really enjoyed the polling process and it was cool to get to go back and reflect on each of the surveys. I am excited to see the results and how they compare to results from previous years with a similar survey because of the location change. It was interesting to hear the other Go-Team members talk about their polling experience and the different type of people they surveyed as well.

We ended the day with an introductory to political ads. I love political ads and cartoons from all time periods. Yesterday I thought it was really neat to watch presidential campaign ads in chronological order to see the progression of political ads over the years. It was also a chance to see just how different the two parties strategies are. We didn’t forget about Missouri while watching these ads because after the presidential ads we then moved on to state and local campaigns and watched a few of those.

Overall, it was a really awesome day! I am learning so many interesting things and about so many cool resources that our available to me. I’m excited to make my own political ad tomorrow!

June 4, 2014
by Abby
Comments Off on Day 2 Reflection: Abby

Day 2 Reflection: Abby

The discussion with our panelists today was enlightening. Their outlook as politicians, unhindered by the usual candidate-to-constituent relationship was uniquely valuable. This experience, great in its own right was enriched because the panelists didn’t see it as a campaign stop. In this post I’m going to share a couple things I found interesting and jotted down:

In the beginning: All of the panelists were inspired to run. They felt they could best represent an underrepresented group of constituents within their community and rose to their civic duty to do so. No matter how they came to this conclusion be it Stacey Newman’s incredible battle against gun violence, Tracey McCreery’s disillusionment with her party establishment, or Reginald Finney’s recognition of the need for minority representation in a community that has very diverse underrepresented constituents, or Linda Rallo who simply wanted to represent residents in office. They all saw the need for reform in government and instead of apathy they turned to action and took on the responsibility of representing their communities.

“Staff and mailings”: When the panelists responded to how they ran campaigns I was surprised both by the what they spent money on and how they conducted their campaigns. It reminded me of the nostalgia we have for the past and politics before it “got messy.” Yesterday, when polling I noticed many said if they could reform campaigns they would limit the money available to candidates and as one man put it: “make it like the old days when candidates had to get to know people.” The grassroots door knocking, calling constituents, GOTV campaigns, and as Stacey Newman said, money spent on “staff and mailings” all seem like ways to run a campaign within the grassroots model that people crave. So why is there still apathy surrounding local elections? Realization that politics doesn’t have to be all mudslinging on the local level makes low voter turnout all the more depressing.

“Politically Homeless”: All the panelists were very moderate. In that they were rarities. As partisanship increases the people that are in the middle, able to compromise with the other party and probably most able to align their political beliefs with all of their constituents once in office, are overlooked so many times. Being a member of a party no longer simply means you have a base on which to place your platform, it divides and decides elections. Linda Rallo, as a republican pro choice woman knows her moderate views mean career suicide. But don’t people want change in government? Are party politics really helping constituents elect the right people to represent the middle? The Political Party Power Structure is immense which is unfortunate and often easy to overlook. I think it comes down to capitalizing on anger to win, which wouldn’t be necessary if voter turnout was higher. Continuing toward polarization and partisanship will only deadlock government more. If Congress on any level thinks that compromise isn’t what this country was founded on they need a history lesson.

Endorsements on the job: I was interested that many said that endorsements were able to bring a community to the table, get people involved. But as Tracey McCreery said, that doesn’t mean all of the bills the elected official proposes are linked to endorsements. Once you’re in office there is a shift, now you represent not only the people that voted for you but all the people who aren’t being represented or in the case of Charlie Dooley, everyone in St. Louis County.

Term limits: the panelists also touched on the term limits and how they cannot get everything done in 2 years with the pressure of reelection looming. If politicians were liberated from the pressure of reelection they vote differently, they vote with their hearts and consciences. So what if there were longer term limits in the MO House for example. Instead of two years if they had 6 like the Missouri Senate how would that differ, would that open the door for compromise even in a predominantly republican environment.

Women and politics #itscomplicated: Women are underrepresented as seat holders on government and make up 51% of the state. They are also underrepresented in campaign donations but in political strategy they have to be considered by politicians because women have utilized the power to vote. Yay! I think. Depends on what that Strategy entails…

I found this experience invaluable it raised so many core issues with running a campaign and being in government. From the duality of the campaign where people are pushed to the extremes and mudslinging to actually working in government and representing not just your supporters but 100% of the people even if 51% voted for you, to how running a campaign can be awkward and invigorating there was so much valuable information imbedded in the panelists experiences that I know I will reference for years to come!

And finally: experiences motivate 

Sounds like it’s time to experience