Although democracy and voting are relatively straight-forward, ballot initiatives and candidate platforms can arcane and difficult to understand. The text for ballot initiatives can often go on for pages, while candidates often shift positions to reflect current events. However, this week’s installment of The List can help you find resources key to understanding the election.
This site is the first stop on most voters’ quest to learn more about what their elections hold. It’s easy to search for your voting precinct by your address, and in return you’ll get a full breakdown of every candidate and ballot measure up for a vote. Bear in mind that you won’t be able to find any indication of which way you should vote on this website; That comes later.
If you want to know more about each ballot proposition and candidate, check out Ballotpedia. Despite the “-pedia” appellation, you won’t find anything like Wikipedia’s infamously unreliable content here. Ballotpedia is strictly edited and moderated, and covers candidates going back to their first foray into politics. You can also check where donors are putting their money on Ballotpedia, making it a key resource for those concerned about corruption.
Obviously, the key groups most interested in courting your vote are political parties. Each one releases voter guides, which largely boil down to voting for the candidate of the relevant party. However, guidance on ballot initiatives doesn’t always split so predictably across party lines, meaning that your party might support or oppose something you’d ordinarily be all about. Don’t be afraid to strike out on your own, however.
If there are other issues you care about, try finding voter guides from organizations supporting those issues instead. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the League of Women Voters and more often publish their views on the ballot, and how supporters should vote. Unions also frequently direct voters to support candidates or propositions one way or another, but bear in mind; You won’t be allowed to have anyone from your union or employer come with you to the polls.
Bring a Friend
Anyone else, however, is definitely allowed to come help you out. According to the Voter Bill of Rights, voters can be accompanied to the a helper. This is primarily targeted towards voters with disabilities and seniors, who often have a hard time reading or understanding their ballots. That doesn’t mean you can have someone else fill out your ballot, but explaining things on it is definitely part of the job.