With the Feb. 2 primary election fast approaching, a Florida-based company is pushing a Web site for Illinois voters to get them prepared for the polls. EVoter.com says it's a non-biased online resource for ballot information on state and local races. Because of its early primary, Illinois is the first state getting a test run of the site. This week's State Capitol Q&A takes a look at what it offers to candidates, organizations and voters.

With the Feb. 2 primary election fast approaching, a Florida-based company is pushing a Web site for Illinois voters to get them prepared for the polls.


EVoter.com says it's a non-biased online resource for ballot information on state and local races. Because of its early primary, Illinois is the first state getting a test run of the site.


This week's State Capitol Q&A takes a look at what it offers to candidates, organizations and voters.


Q. What is eVoter.com's background?


A. The Web site was created by Political Technologies LLC and has been running since last November.


"The idea is that not only can (voters) get information on the candidates, but it's a way to help organizations and (candidates) get out their message in a cost-effective manner," CEO Adam Kravitz said.


Kravitz said voters can use their home addresses to search for sample ballots. The site also provides more information on candidates with registered profiles.


Voters casting a sample ballot are alerted if they don't vote for the right number of candidates, or undervote. This February primary is the first time that voting machines statewide will kick back ballots with undervotes.


The site also offers candidates more opportunities to spread their message – for a price. For a fee, candidates can create and manage profiles. They can include links to videos and other Web sites along with endorsement announcements.


Q. Who can register on the Web site, and how much does it cost?


A. Both candidates and organizations can create profiles on the site and can list endorsements there. So far, 10 organizations have registered, ranging from the Illinois Federation of Teachers to the Illinois Sierra Club Political Action Committee.


Each candidate must pay $100 to create a profile on the Web site, but that drops to $10 in state or township committee races. Each candidate is responsible for providing the content in his or her profile.


Kravitz said the fees are based on the volume of candidates throughout the state.


Q. What does a candidate's profile look like?


A. Most profiles contain the candidate's photo, party affiliation, campaign statement, a list of endorsements and a biography. Some include links to a personal campaign Web site, news articles or videos.


Each profile includes a link for visitors to donate money to the candidate. Other links let people share the profile with others, voice support for the candidate or send a private message.


Q. How many candidates have profiles?


A. More than 50 candidates have created profiles on the website, including eight of the 13 lieutenant governor candidates.


Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Dan Proft are the only gubernatorial candidates with registered profiles. Elizabeth Austin, Quinn's campaign communications manager, said Web site officials approached them about creating a profile earlier this month.


Austin said traffic on Quinn's own campaign Web site went up after the eVoter profile was posted.


"I think we all realize that it's very important to reach out to voters not only through traditional media, but through new media as well," she said. "This was an opportunity to do that in a very focused way."


Other statewide candidates with profiles include Justin Oberman, a Democratic candidate for state treasurer, Secretary of State Jesse White and Attorney General Lisa Madigan.


Oberman originally was unaware of the site when asked about it by a reporter. But the next day, his campaign information was uploaded.


Q. How many people have used the site?


A. Kravitz said the site gets thousands of hits each day, with more than 10,000 ballots being printed out since November. The company hopes to reach 100,000 voters with Illinois information and expand the site nationwide this year.


Champaign County Clerk Mark Shelden said he had initial concerns about problems with ballot errors on the site, but those were quickly corrected. He's still worried that copycats could put a political slant on eVoter's effort.


"It's a slippery slope that, as an election official, I'm not real thrilled to go down," he said. "There are certainly people who are less ethical than the eVoter folks that might use these tools in a way that wouldn't be good for voters."


John Guidroz can be reached at (217) 782-6882 or john.guidroz@sj-r.com.


On the Net:


eVoter.com


Gov. Pat Quinn’s eVoter profile: http://www.evoter.com/patquinn


Dan Proft’s eVoter profile: http://www.evoter.com/danproft


Justin Oberman’s eVoter profile: http://www.evoter.com/justinoberman


Secretary of State Jesse White’s eVoter profile: http://www.evoter.com/jessewhite


Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s eVoter profile: http://www.evoter.com/lisamadigan