Friday, November 2, 2012

How to Be an Informed Voter - Links to Make the Democratic Process Easier

{Note: edited to add 11/03/2012}

Sometimes voting can be confusing and frustrating. There is nothing like confidently walking into your polling station and marking your choice of candidates, only to turn the page and find out that you are not in the district you thought and aren't really sure which representative you should vote for now. Turn the page again, and you are confronted with a list of 8-12 judges that you've never heard of. Followed by "Proposition A" that you had no clue about, written in a language that is about as clear as mud. Perfect. Now what? You make your choices as best you can and slip it in the ballot box. As you put on your "I voted" sticker, you can't help but wonder if there is a better way.

This is why I'm writing this post. To make being an informed voter easier. Voting is important. Especially informed voting. I have put together a list of links and resources so you can be just that: informed, and not feel like you have to guess the truth based on each candidate's affiliated political party or ads you've seen on tv.

1. Find out exactly what (and who) is on the ballot and what districts you are in. 

Any state: http://vote-usa.org/ Enter your address and it will show you a sample ballot, along with links for each candidate so you can compare. It will also tell you what districts you will be voting for, which is extremely helpful. (Note: The sample ballot does not show which judges will be on the ballot, but it does show federal and state candidates and other measures you will be voting on. Also, using the sites "Compare Candidates" feature is not always helpful, because the site does not have any information on many of the candidates. The site does at least let you know the candidates and measures on the ballot so you know who to research.)

Missouri specifically: http://jcebmo.org/on-the-ballot. The sample ballot shows all districts, not just your own, but this includes judges. I printed this off and, using the district information I got from http://vote-usa.org/, I crossed off the districts that were not going to be on my ballot. When you print this off, you only need to print off the pages that include the sample ballot. For this year's election, that includes pages 1-11. Pages 12-19 contain information on voting locations only and do not include ballot information. As you do your research, you can make notes on these pages on where the candidates stand on the issues most important to you.

Other states/territories: If you live in another state and would like to look up the ballot, including judges or anything else that may not be included in vote-usa.org, do an internet search for "sample ballot alabama" or "what is on the ballot in alabama" (or whatever state you're in) and you should be able to find it. If you get too many results, you may need to narrow your search by including "Nov 6, 2012."

2. Research where each candidate stands on the issues most important to you. For me, the most important issues are protecting and upholding life in all it's forms, including unborn life. There are several ways that you can look up where candidates stand on life and other issues important to the family.

National Right to Life You can see all the National Right to Life endorsed candidates for each state here

Missouri Right to Life You can see all the candidates endorsed by Missouri Right to Life here. (Endorsed candidates are in caps. Read the key to find out what other symbols mean.) This is a perfect example of why you cannot assume where candidates stand based on political affiliation. For Missouri Lieutenant Governor, for example, neither the democrat nor the republican candidates are endorsed, but Cynthia Davis is (running on Constitution platform). Also, in District 31, Shelia Solon, a republican, is not endorsed by MO right to life, while her opponent, Dale Walkup (a democrat), is. 

Citizen Link Voter is a website by Focus on the Family designed to help voters know where candidates stand on life and other family issues.  This site is a fairly recent development, and for my state (Missouri), it says "No candidate information has been provided." Hopefully this site will be more helpful in the future.

{Added 11/03/12} AFA Action {AFA = American Family Association}. Use AFA Action's voter guide to see their ratings for different candidates. Each candidate is graded based on how confident the AFA panel is that he or she will vote conservatively if elected. You can also click "Show Details" to see how different organizations within the panel individually rated each candidate. Very helpful resource.

{Added 11/03/12} Christian Coalition of America The CC surveys candidates on important issues and examines their records. The voter guide includes various issues and indicates whether each candidate supports or opposes each position. {Heads up: You have to sign up for the site before you can get your voter guide.}

3. Research the Amendments and Other Measures Also on the Ballot. Now that you know what and who is going to be on your ballot and where the candidates stand on issues important to you, research the amendments and other measures (i.e. Propositions, etc.) so you can make an informed vote. I obviously do not have links for every measure for every state, so the best way is to do an internet search on each one and do your own research. Since you are already know what the measures are from step 1, this shouldn't be difficult.

4. Make a list of your choices to take with you when you vote. You can simply print off the sample ballot and circle the candidates you choose or write them down on your own. This ensures that you do not forget all the work you've done!

With regards to judges: Unfortunately, I have not found a way to effectively research judges and where they stand on important issues. Legally, judges are supposed to be impartial, and their beliefs are not supposed to inform their judgments. They are there to interpret the laws that already exist, not conform the laws to their belief systems. Unfortunately, we all know that sadly this is not the case. Because they are said to be impartial, researching their beliefs and affiliations is difficult.

Note regarding comments: If you have more useful links or if these links helped, please leave me a comment and let me know! However, the comments are not to be used as a place to make a case for anti-life or anti-family positions. I realize that step 2 takes a very strong pro-life stance, which is something I have no intention of apologizing for. Any disrespectful or otherwise unhelpful comments will be deleted. Thanks for your cooperation. :)

{Disclaimer: This blog post does NOT contain any affiliate or paid links.}

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