Ballot Initiative Strategy Center

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Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC) is a Washington, D.C.-based, progressive, non-partisan organization founded in 1998 that considers itself the "nerve center" for progressive ballot initiative campaigns in the United States.[1]


BISC works to strategize the most effective ways to advance the progressive movement in and around elections. According to its website, it aims to help progressives "catch up" to the right wing's use of ballot initiatives in politics.

It takes progressive stances on the issues on which it focuses, including ballot integrity, education, energy, equal opportunity, health care, immigration, fiscal/budget issues, LGBT equality, reproductive freedom, and economic security.[1]


Before the election, the BISC works with researchers to design polls and focus groups of targeted voters in swing states. It then works with its state and national partners to design a strategy of how to talk to voters about issues important to them.

After the election, the BISC researches the ways that ballot initiatives have influenced other election priorities, such as voter turnout, opinions of candidates, and the issue dialogue in the state. The results help the BISC plan for future issues and build on our successes.[1]


The BISC provides customized, strategic campaign advice and research to organizations with campaigns to advance the progressive agenda, offering training for and recruiting of staff and consultants, direction of financial support to targeted campaigns, campaign planning and messaging assistance, development of national frameworks for earned, online, and paid media, research of the measure's opposition and potential political interplay, spread of the best practices and techniques from one state to another, and aid in building progressive infrastructure.

It also helps to organize "initiative tables" in many states to spread campaign strategy ideas and tactics.[1]


Executive Director Kristina Wilfore is joined by Program Director for Ballot Integrity Joel Foster, Deputy Executive Director for Strategic Development Steve Schwartz, Project Coordinator Khady Mbaye, Online Communications Coordinator Kimberly Ochylski and Communications Director John Kraus.


The board is made up by: Karen Ackerman of AFL-CIO, Earl Bender of Avenel Associates, Mary Jean Collins of People for the American Way, John Jameson of Winning Connections, Mike Lux of Progressive Strategies, Matt McKinnon of International Association of Machinists, John Ost of American Federation of Teachers, Amy Pritchard of AP Campaigns and Mission Control, Will Robinson of The New Media Group, Larry Scanlon of AFSCME, Gloria Totten of Progressive Majority, Lisa Turner of The Turner Group, LLC, Gail Tuzzolo of Gail Tuzzolo Associates, Michael J. Wilson of United Food and Commercial Workers union, Carrie Pugh of the National Education Association, Jon Youngdahl of Service Employees International Union, Michael Ettlinger of Center for American Progress, Heather Holdridge of Care2, Bernie Horn of Campaign for America's Future, Hans Johnson of Progressive Victory, Laurie Moskowitz of Fieldworks, Crystal Plati (consultant and former Executive Director of ChoiceUSA), and Daniel Smith, Ph.D. from the University of Florida.

BISC Foundation

The foundation arm of the BISC was awarded a two-year, $100,000 grant from George Soros' Open Society Institute for "policy innovation."[2]

Michael Kieschnick is a board member of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center Foundation.

External links