We’re ramping up to the 2020 election and a lot of emphasis has been placed on registering to vote and actually going to the polls on Election Day. I’m all about fulfilling your civic duty, but don’t feel that informed voting gets enough emphasis during the election process.
According to the United States Census, only 61.4 percent of the citizens in the voting-age population reported voting in 2016. That’s nearly 40 percent of the country who did not vote!
The highest reason for not voting? Pew Research says it’s because they didn’t like the candidates or felt their vote would not make a difference.
Could that be because voters didn’t have important information at their fingertips on where the candidates stood regarding policy positions, platforms? Or maybe it would have been helpful for people to be able to easily find how incumbents voted.
It can be REALLY HARD to find nonpartisan sites that help you sift through this information. So I decided to compile an easy list of resources that will help YOU make an informed decision when you go to the polls or mail in that absentee ballot this November.
How Do I Know What Candidate Most Aligns With My Beliefs?
There are several really great websites out there that offer quizzes you can take that ask you a range of questions ranging from social issues, economic, environmental to foreign policy.
iSideWith is my personal favorite. If the choices provided aren’t exactly how you stand, you can write in or choose from more. After you’ve taken the quiz, you’ll get a break down of how your answers match up with the candidates.
Reliable Fact Checking Sites
In the era of fake news, finding reputable sites for fact checking can be hard! Try to stick with nonpartisan sources that have proven track records or have won awards for their excellence.
Washington Post Fact Checker
How Did They Vote?
You can track how all the incumbent House and Senate members voted, thanks to Govtrack.us. It doesn’t include committee votes, but it’s EXTREMELY comprehensive and goes back to the 1700s.
The late Senator Lugar, who was from Indiana, created a Bipartisan Index on The Lugar Center’s website. It takes a look at how well members of opposite parties work with one another using bill sponsorship and co-sponsorship data.
The Bipartisan Index measures the frequency with which a Member co-sponsors a bill introduced by the opposite party and the frequency with which a Member’s own bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party.
What we are measuring in this Index is not so much the quality of legislation but rather the efforts of legislators to broaden the appeal of their sponsored legislation, to entertain a wider range of ideas, and to prioritize governance over posturing.
Where Do They Stand?
Check the candidates platforms on their web sites. Many will list the issues and go into comprehensive detail and the action steps they plan to take if elected.
Vote Smart is also a great resource – they track how candidates voted, speeches they’ve made, list bios and more. You can create an account, track a candidate and have updates sent to you.
Who Funds Them & How is the Money Spent?
Candidates often receive funding from outside donors hoping to change the election results and money is a huge factor in all elections. Want to see the PACs, lobbyists and outside interest groups backing your candidate? Check out Open Secrets for all the data on that!
How the campaign spends that money is also open record. The Federal Election Commission has that data.
That’s a lot to take in! I hope you’ve found everything I’ve shared helpful. Here are just a couple more important resources that can help you when go to vote or are trying to sift through information that may be biased.