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What are the best resources for learning about election candidates before voting?


*Note: This isn't a political post; it's a description of my experience

August 2, 2022, is the Primary election.

In all my years of being an adult, I've never felt more passionate to understand who I'm selecting as the candidate I support than I do now. With all the decisions being made in our government that don't feel like they align with my values, I wanted to make a more informed decision rather than selecting just because. If I'm being honest, this task feels overwhelming, and I found myself asking:

  • Where do I start?

  • What does this mean to me?

  • Who am I going to select?

To answer those questions, I used search engines to find out more information.

My thoughts below describe how I started and my opinions on the voter guide.

Where did I start?

For about two weeks, I've told everyone around me that I'd like someone to develop a website built off of APIs that will present all the information I need about a candidate to help me understand who they are. After looking on Google, I found a resource that helped me understand the candidates based on how they Oppose/Support certain questions. I started with the following, 2022 AZ Voter Guide, and below is a high-level overview from my perspective about the Voter guide:

  • Federal / State candidates answer only

  • Common questions asked between Federal / State, but not necessarily consistent

  • Candidates had the opportunity to decline; alternative contact information was provided in these cases.

  • Links to City & County candidate websites only

  • Lacks information on roles like State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Justice of the peace, etc.

For those roles that lack information, I took to a search engine with the role and searched for different resources that gave background on the candidate, the role they're trying to fill, and their opponents to understand who I felt aligned with my values.

My thoughts on what I read in the Voter guide...

First, in my book, candidates who decline to answer the questions are automatically out. I know this may be an unpopular opinion, but if you can't answer a basic question about where you stand on a question, you're not being transparent enough for me to allow you the privilege to make decisions on my behalf.

Second, the questions were sometimes strange, e.g.

  • "Allow parents to seek professional counseling for their minor child." are we not allowed to do this now?

  • "Expand background checks to include guns purchased from private individuals," as opposed to public individuals?

  • "Amending the U.S. Constitution to require Congress to balance the federal budget every year," do they not do that now?

Third, I would have loved to see the same (or an expanded set) of questions asked to both the Federal and State candidates. This would have helped me understand the different goals and values of the Federal roles compared to the State roles.

Do your part, Vote!

These next few years are critical to the future. If you're in a place where you are:

  • Feeling defeated by the policies

  • Don't understand the current decision-making process

  • Don't understand the plans of the person you're electing

  • Want to make a change

Do your research this election year. Understand the plans (aka values/goals/outcomes) of the candidates you're backing. And, VOTE!


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