An Interview with Dick Simpson: Putting Political Trends into Perspective

Credit to UIC News Center

Welcome to the fifth interview of our Uncontested Races series! We have been exploring the question of why so many state and local offices go uncontested, even in major election years like 2016. Thus far, we’ve interviewed a 24-year-old Minnesotan state legislator, a University of Chicago political scientist, and the data-focused founder of

We spoke with Professor Dick Simpson, the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Political Science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago for his perspective, especially in the local Chicago context. In addition to his academic career, Professor Simpson has been active in many areas of Chicago politics over the years, including serving as an alderman from the 44th Ward. Over the phone, we asked him about his personal views on the last couple decades of Chicago politics and his experience working with reform and progressive candidates, including State Representative Will Guzzardi. (more…)

When you don’t see a candidate that you want, you have to become that candidate

Credit to The Oregonian

“When you don’t see a candidate that you want on the ballot, that’s sometimes a sign that you have to become that candidate. I hope that people won’t be as scared of doing that.”

Welcome back to our Uncontested Races blog series! In previous posts, we’ve interviewed politicians who defeated longtime incumbents and an academic that studies electoral competition. In today’s post, we focus on helping more people run for public office, specifically by making election and candidacy information more digitally accessible.

Jim Cupples is the founder of Run For Office, a free online service that helps people find local offices they may be interested in running for. The website has all the information for how to file as a candidate, including the paperwork requirements and deadlines, and even provides a free voter file. We spoke with Jim over the phone to ask him about why he started the data project and which government reforms could make things a lot easier for first-time candidates. (more…)

An Interview with Anthony Fowler: Analyzing the Data of Incumbent Success

Credit to Harris School of Public Policy

Here at BallotReady, we have been trying to understand the phenomenon of uncontested races.

Why do so many races only have one candidate in them– the incumbent? What obstacles prevent newcomers from running for office? Over the past few months, we’ve interviewed people who knew exactly how hard it was to run for office against a long-time incumbent: Illinois State Rep. Will Guzzardi and Minnesota State Rep. Fue Lee.

Now, in this post we showcase the perspective of someone who has studied the topic in depth, utilizing data from across the country. Anthony Fowler is an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. His research seeks to apply methods from econometrics to political science questions, including addressing problems of voter turnout and analyzing the causes of incumbent success. We sat down with him to get his thoughts on electoral competition, the unpopularity of Congress, and the importance of holding elected officials accountable. (more…)

How to Vote: Montana


On May 25, 2017, Montana will hold a special at-large Congressional election to fill the seat left by former Congressman Ryan Zinke, who was confirmed by the Senate as Trump’s Secretary of the Interior earlier this year. Candidates were chosen by party elites at conventions and there will be three candidates on the ballot. You can read more about them here.

There is still debate going on over whether the election will be mail only, but for now, officials have said it is safe to assume the election will be conducted will fully open polling places. For those who are residents of the state and wish to vote in the election, we have answered some questions in order to help you cast your vote on the ballot later this month. (more…)

Will New York Decide to Hold a Constitutional Convention?


On November 7, 2017, voters in the state of New York will have the opportunity to decide via ballot measure whether the state will hold a constitutional convention. If passed, major changes could occur to current state laws, and many fear that rights such as pension protection and access to education may be put in jeopardy. Others argue that any opportunity for change is better than the lengthy legislative process otherwise in place in the state.

Montana Special Election Probably Won’t be Mail Only

Credit to MTPR

For the past month, Montana has been debating whether the upcoming May 25 special election to fill Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s congressional seat will be conducted in person, by mail, or some combination of both.

In the most recent escalation of the debate, earlier this month, Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) vetoed Rep. Bryce Bennett’s (R) HB83 and amended the legislation in order to force state lawmakers to reconsider mail-in balloting in the upcoming special election. (more…)

Men Who Sued the State of Montana Will Not be Added to the Ballot


On April 8th, the U.S. District Court in Great Falls ruled against including two minor party candidates on the ballot for the Montana special congressional election this May. The two men had filed a federal complaint in March claiming that unlike the major-party candidates, they were not given a fair chance to run for the at-large congressional seat.

Thomas Breck was a nominee for the Montana Green Party and Steve Kelly was a potential candidate for the Independent Party.  In their lawsuit, they asked U.S. District Judge Brian Morris to declare that defendant, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, was upholding unconstitutional state legislation. (more…)

Meet the Candidates Running for Montana’s sole Congressional Seat



Montana will be holding a special election on May 25, 2017 to replace former Congressman Ryan Zinke, who was confirmed by the Senate as Trump’s Secretary of the Interior earlier this year. Montana is one of the many states that has been touched by the down-ballot effects of Trump’s cabinet appointments, and this special election will be the first one held by the state in 47 years. The winner of this election will act as Montana’s sole representative in the House, a position that has been under Republican control for the past 20 years.

There will be three candidates on the ballot, all of whom were chosen by party elites at conventions, rather than through a primary election. Rob Quist (D), Greg Gianforte (R), and Mark Wicks (L) will go head to head in the fight to represent the state of Montana in the House later this May. We’ve put together key facts about each of them below. (more…)

How to Vote: Georgia



On April 18, 2017, Georgia will hold a special primary election in its 6th Congressional District to fill the seat left by former Congressman Tom Price (R), who resigned from his position earlier this year to act as President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Stakes are high for both Democrats and Republicans in the race, and if one candidate is able to receive more than 50% of the vote, there will be no runoff election later this year. For those who are residents of the district and wish to vote in the election, we have answered some questions in order to help you cast your vote on the ballot this upcoming Tuesday.


Special Primary Election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District


 American politics

Stakes are high in Georgia, where Democrats and Republicans are battling for a House seat up for election on April 18th, 2017 in a district that has been strictly Republican since the late 1970’s. Georgia’s 6th Congressional District seeks to replace a vacancy left by former Congressman Tom Price (R), who resigned from his position earlier this year when he was confirmed by the Senate as President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.  (more…)