Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to Research Candidates in the Upcoming Election

From the USA.gov Blog:

How to Research Candidates in the Upcoming Election:
In less than a month, people across the country will vote for the next president, as well as other state and local offices. If you want to vote, it’s important to make sure you are registered and know about your voting options, such as early voting and requesting an absentee ballot.
It’s just as important that you are familiar with the races on your local ballot so you can make informed decisions. Most state election sites have a list of candidates or a sample ballot. This can help you become familiar with who is running for office.

Check Voter Guides

If you want to learn more about the candidates’ views on topics that matter to you, then you might want to check the candidates’ websites or a voter guide. The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, produces an online voter guide where you can find a sample ballot, candidates’ answers to specific questions, and links to the candidates’ websites.
There are many organizations that produce voter guides to encourage voting for certain candidates based on the priorities of the group, such as the environment or health care. These organizations may be able to help you find information about the candidates’ positions on issues that matter to you.
Many state and local organizations, such as newspapers, also produce voter guides. These can be a good way to find additional information about local issues of interest.
If you are unsure of where to look for information about a candidate or want to find a local voter guide, check with your local public library.

Research Voting History

If a candidate is currently in office or previously held office, then you can also view the person’s voting history. In order to do this, you need to know information about a piece of legislation the candidate voted on, such as bill name or number.
If the candidate served in Congress, you can find voting history by visiting Congress.gov and checking the Major Actions tab on a piece of legislation, such as Senate bill 3187. Here you’ll find links to Senate sites that contain a record of the vote on the bill.
If the candidate served in a state office, then try checking your state legislature’s website for similar information.
Some organizations may also add voting history on specific issues to their voter guides.

Don’t Forget Ballot Measures

In addition to voting for candidates, you may be presented with ballot measures, additional questions about issues impacting your state or local community.
Your state election site or sample ballot should also have information about any ballot measures that you will vote on in November. A state or local voter guide may also include details about the issue that can help you determine how to cast your vote.