Jessup Playbooks Logo

EDU 200 Assignment Playbook

Need Help?

Ask a Librarian @
Betty Sue Jessup Library

501 College Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Nonpartisan and Bias

For this Think-Tac-Toe project, you will need to create a nonpartisan election guide for one of the upcoming local school board elections in Albemarle, Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Greene, or Louisa County, or for the Virginia gubernatorial race.

First, let's explore what nonpartisan means in this context.

  • Nonpartisan is defined as "free from party affliation, bias, or designation," according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. That means your election guide should be free from bias for or against a political party. 

What does bias mean?

  • Bias is a predisposition or preconceived opinion that causes a person to disproportionately judge in favor of or against an idea, belief, person, group, etc. Bias is a form of prejudice, based not on facts and reason but on internal beliefs. Bias can be innate (you had it at birth) or learned.

Why is being nonbiased/nonpartisan important for a voter election guide?

  • A voter election guide is not campaign materials or advertising for a candidate. It is informational only. Your job is not to sway a potential voter, but to present the candidates' stances on public issues as factually and clearly as possible. That's it!  

Who Is on the Ballot?

Use these resources to find out who is running for governor or your local school board.

Note: Clicking on the VA Dept. of Elections List of Local Candidates will allow you to filter by county or office title, which is helpful when searching for school board candidates. 

Finding Information About the Candidates

The candidates' own websites are the best source of information about their platforms, but try these sources/search engines as well.

Make sure the source you use is credible. If you are unsure, refer to How do I evaluate a news story?

Writing Your Voter Election Guide

Once you have all the information about the candidates' platform, it is time to write. Keep these things in mind:

  • When using images, make sure all images are similar. That means that both photos should be color or black and white, or both should be in a professional setting, etc. Photos should be the same size as well.
  • Give each candidate the same amount of text space.
  • Cover the same number of issues. If you discuss the candidate's views on the environment, then do so for the other candidate as well.
  • Watch your language.
    • Stick with "opposes" or "supports" to describe their stance.
    • Do NOT say "think" or "believe." Voting records, if available for an issue, is a good way to confirm what a candidate supports or opposes.
    • Do NOT use adjectives! Your summary of their platform should be straightforward and succinct. 
    • Refer to the AP Style Guide for information on what term to use for current issues/topics.

A sample voter election guide, created by PVCC political science and journalism students, is available as a guide.

Designing a Voter Election Guide

Here are some links for your reference. Find information on language, layout, and visuals. Enjoy!