Performing Your Civic Duties

How To Become A More Confident Voter

Voting in this political climate can be an overwhelming task. You are likely bombarded constantly by news sources and social media posts sharing all kinds of opinions and stories about various political issues and candidates. Candidates for Congress as well as local offices will try to discredit their opponents by using all kinds of accusations. It can feel extremely difficult to find out what's actually true. However, with these tips for doing political research, you'll feel more confident in your vote.

Look Up the Candidate's Voting Record

No matter what a candidate says on their website, their voting record will speak the truth. You can find sources that show how local and Congressional candidates have voted in the past, or if they were even present for the vote. This will show you whether or not the candidate is consistently aligned with their political party and their own professed beliefs. If the candidate is not an incumbent, you can research other actions they have taken in other political positions or in their community that indicate their position on the issues. 

Dissect the Candidate's Speech

Many politicians are skilled at public speaking; they know how to respond vaguely or appeal to emotions rather than give actual information. Many political ads or events can make a candidate appear charismatic, even without them mentioning any of the issues. When you hear the candidate speak, be it on a debate stage, at a rally, or in a social media post, pay close attention to what they're really saying (or not saying). Do they make a lot of promises that are unrealistic? Do they avoid taking responsibility for their past actions or words? Do they refuse to acknowledge potential problems or costs of the ideas they're suggesting? Do they focus on tearing opponents down instead of building up their own platform? When they do attack opponents, do they talk about the problems with their platform or just make jabs that score cheap points with the audience? Digging deeply into the candidate's speech will help you make a decision.

Find Out How Their Campaign Is Funded

Knowing which groups, businesses, and organizations are funding a candidate's campaign can be useful in determining whether that candidate should get your vote. If you like a certain organization's morals, and that organization is funding a certain candidate, that might mean that the candidate has many of those same morals. However, if a candidate claims to take one side of an issue, but is funded by a group that takes another side, you might wonder where the candidate's loyalties will lie once the election is over. Counting on that same group to fund a re-election campaign in the future could influence their actions while in office, no matter what they promise.

Contact the Candidate Directly

Speaking with the candidate directly will be a useful way to obtain information. This is easier to do if the election is local, as you have a better chance of getting a response to a call or email. You can even attend campaign events or visit their office. If the candidate is running for a federal position, you can expect to speak with a representative of the campaign. Any direct communication will give you a better sense of the candidate's personality. You should be able to tell if they truly care about your concerns. Consider the issues that are priorities to you and have specific questions prepared that will be difficult for the candidate to answer vaguely or with a one-word reply. 

If you follow these tips, you should be more confident in your votes for your congressional candidate this election season.