Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vote Smart

Election Day is just around the corner. If you are planning to vote, please spend some time researching the candidates first. Be informed. Don't base your decisions on campaign rhetoric, party loyalties, or random patterns. Base your decision on solid information about each candidate. It takes time, but it is very important.

One of the best things you can do is to visit the website of each candidate that has one (see my Election Guide post from July for links). Read what they have to say about their platform, see where they stand on the issues.

Think about what you feel is important. What direction do you think the country and the state should be going? 

Think about what you read. Does it make sense? Do you understand what the candidate has stated? If you have questions, do some more research. For example, Romney's website states that he will approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Don't know what that is? Look it up.

Look at the whole picture. If a candidate promises to cut spending to certain programs, like funding for the arts and humanities, while also promising to increase spending on the military, what impact do you think that will that have?

Try doing a side-by-side comparison of the candidates for different issues, researching both what is on their websites and what they have said at debates and speeches. 

Use critical thinking when you read about the candidates. A lot of what they say is pure rhetoric, empty statements that sound good, but have no substance.

Another place to look for information are fact checker sites. Be careful: many sites claiming to be fact checkers are partisan, supporting one side over the other. You may need to fact check the fact checkers (crazy world!).

Fact checker sites that seem to be trustworthy include The Washington Post,,, and, of course,, which has tackled some of the more popular political rumors make the rounds of Facebook and email.

Don't forget to research the local-level candidates. They may not get as much media coverage as national-level candidates, but they are just as important.

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