Do your research at Project Vote Smart

I was talking with a friend the other day about how daunting (and completely necessary) it is to research all these presidential candidates. If you’re not completely sold on any one candidate, it can be tough to look at a pool of 10+ people you’ve for the most part heard nothing about.

Then I remembered Project Vote Smart. It’s a great tool. I highly recommend it. You can look up damn near any politician (presidential candidate or not).  Read their resume, which includes the political offices they’ve held (including any subcommittees, etc., that they’re members of) and professional careers they’ve had. See if they’ve taken PVS’s “Political Courage Test,” which asks candidates to state outright their platform on particular hot-button issues.

But here’s the best part, in my opinion — you can view their voting record on a per-issue basis. If, like many voters, you’re an issues voter (one whose vote mainly hinges on one issue – environment, health care, women’s rights), this can come in particularly handy. As you all know, voting records can be starkly different from the promises coming out of a candidate’s mouth.

Click on the candidate, choose from the drop-down list of issues, and view their record on votes relating to that issue.

Sure, it can get tedious, particularly if you’re not sure what each act, bill or amendment is regarding, and what a yes or no vote means for that particular act, bill or amendment.

But this tool is available so that you can learn. No one ever said a government by and for the people would be a cinch to navigate, right?

Here’s what the NY Times had to say about it: “So good even the Federal Government recommends it.”

And U.S. New and World Report said: “Project Vote Smart would make the Founders weep with joy.”

I for one feel much more comfortable navigating the upcoming election with this tool than just wading through heaps of insult-laden hype.

–Natalie

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