Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts; Carol A. Drost

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Access:

Maureen James, University of Arkansas-Little Rock,

Founded in 1981 with the goal “to analyze federal budget priorities, with a particular focus on how budget choices affect low-income Americans,” the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has expanded its focus to include analysis of state budget priorities, and topics such as food assistance, health care, housing, and social security.

The website serves as a portal to CBPP’s research reports, blogs, press releases, statements, and commentaries in 11 broad research areas that are listed on the “Research” drop down tab on the main page. Clicking on the magnifying glass icon on the main page will display a search box where one can search by subject and refine by author, date, relevance, and type of publication.

Research reports are especially well done, vary in length, are clearly written, and effectively use bar charts, statistical tables, and photographs. They typically include a list of resources and provide references to news articles that refer to the reports. The PDF versions of these reports would work well as fact sheets for distribution at meetings. Each report has the address, phone number, and email address of the CBPP.

The “Experts” tab on the main page leads to a list of CBPP staff by their area of expertise, and provides brief biographies and a list of their recent publications. Contact information includes Twitter and email addresses.

The site offers the opportunity to subscribe to email updates in several areas of interest. Once subscribed, emails arrive at reasonable intervals and serve to notify of new papers and reports. “In Case You Missed It” is one attention-grabbing subject line used in some of the emails that summarize CBPP’s publications, mention updated reports, and other activities.

High school and college students will find the site useful for information on hot topics for papers and class presentations. Laypersons who want to keep informed and updated on the impact of federal and state budget policies on low- and moderate-income citizens will also benefit, as will advocates for the poor, who will find a wealth of information and data to present and support their arguments.

OneAmerica. Access:

Molly Susan Mathias, University of WisconsinMilwaukee,

OneAmerica: With Justice for All has a magnificent mission and long history of supporting immigrants. Overall it functions as a news portal and information directory geared toward helping immigrants in the Seattle area. The website has helpful information about obtaining local benefits and contacting advocacy groups. The resource also has information about new laws and policies that impact immigrants living in the United States.

The website was founded a few days after the September 11 terror attacks and was formerly called the “Hate Free Zone (HFZ).” The site began with the goal of preemptively assisting immigrants from Arabic and East Asian countries to handle any backlash after September 11. The history section of the HFZ provides a ten-year timeline of immigrant legislation and the local lobbying actions by HFZ advocates.

The overarching mission of OneAmerica is that there can be no justice without equality and peace. The focus of their work is divided into “Resources for Immigrants,” “Community Organizing,” “Policy Advocacy and Research,” “Civic Engagement and Electoral Work,” and “Communications and Media.” The interviews and testimonial are quite touching and informative, but the website suffers from a lot of outdated information. It is disconcerting that many news items are more than two years old, and it is impossible to know how current the other statues and regulations are on this site. Another disadvantage of this site is that it is very local-centric and the directory information would primarily work for immigrants looking for information in Seattle, Washington. However, there are links to national partners and international organizations that also advocate for immigrants. OneAmerica could be a good model for another region that needs to set up a directory and connect global citizens with advocacy groups and information.

The site has the mission and vision translated into multiple languages, but only the Spanish-language area has been extensively translated for immigrants. Given the current political climate, the owners of this website will need to play close attention to new immigration requirements, policies, and regulations and keep it updated so the constituents that they serve will be confident in the information provided.

United States Election Assistance Commission. Access:

Ford Schmidt, Willamette University, fschmidt@willamette.ed

Established in 2002 by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is an independent, bipartisan commission comprised of four members appointed by the President and approved by Congress. It serves as a national clearinghouse for information on election administration, adopts guidelines for a voluntary voting system, provides guidance in meeting HAVA requirements, accredits voting testing laboratories, and certifies voting equipment and systems.

Six tabs offer access to the major areas of information. “Resources for Voters” provides voter guides in 11 languages, a selection of links to other useful resources relating to voter registration, information about volunteering as a poll worker, and a history and explanation of the Electoral College. Also, the National Mail Voter Registration Form, in seven languages, is available here.

“Voting System Testing and Certification” provides a window on the accreditation process for voting systems, and lists guidelines, policies, and related materials. “Election Management Resources” includes guidance, advisories and best practices to aid election officials. “Payments and Grants” provides information on EAC-managed federal funding and grants, as well as audit reports on the use of these funds.

“Research and Data” collects research and reports commissioned by EAC, information about research in progress, and election research by outside organizations. This information is shared with Congress, election officials, and the public. Downloadable datasets are also available. “National Voter Registration Act” contains information regarding voter registration rules and regulations for each state.

At the top of the homepage, there are additional information options: “About EAC” provides further information about the organization, including information about the commissioners, annual reports, and job opportunities with the commission. There is also a “Contact EAC” button; “Inspector General” (they have their own) that lists information about this independent branch of the commission, whose main purpose is to audit the activity of the commission; and “Clearinghouse,” which provides searchable access to all the information on the site.

In all, a plethora of information is included on this site. As such, it is recommended to students, scholars, voters, and anyone else interested in one of the most important aspects of a successful democratic society. With the various accusations and inaccuracies recently promulgated about the trustworthiness of our electoral process, this site couldn’t be more relevant.

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