1. Request A Sample Ballot
Too many voters show up at the ballot box only to realize they didn’t do any homework. Suddenly there are candidates and amendments on their ballots that need your vote but it’s all written in legal jargon — at times on purpose, just to confuse you.
Some states will automatically send you a sample ballot, so you have time to review it and prepare your selections. Others require you to request one or view it online — if you choose to do so. You can look up or request a sample ballot with your county’s Supervisor of Elections or visit ballotpedia to plug in your name and address and have a sample ballot emailed to you.
2. Visit Candidate Websites
Rather than take the word of friends, family, social media, media sources, and websites that claim to be nonpartisan yet are anything but, the best way to get to know the candidates on your ballot and what they stand for is to visit their official websites. Most candidates have a portal specifically for the issues that are key to their campaigns. It’s also important to listen to what they say when they debate opponents and speak at events, and to keep a close eye on who they align themselves with. Like our abuelas used to say, “dime con quien andas y te digo quien eres.”
3. Seek Non-Partisan Sources — And A Few Partisan Ones, Too.
It’s easy to close our eyes to the other side of any issue, but to understand the full context of anything, it’s important to educate yourself about where the other side is coming from. It’s OK to not agree, but to be educated and disagree is a lot different than being emotional, angry and disagree. Whether we like it or not, we share our communities and country with people whose beliefs are different than ours — and that is actually part of what makes American so great!.