A Guide to Voter's Guides

Websites that will help you know the facts before you step in the booth

| November 2, 2006

If you can't wait for 2008 to make the political situation in this country better, Tuesday, November 7, is your chance. Candidates have been gearing up for months, flooding the airwaves with information (and disinformation), trying to curry favor with potential voters. It's difficult to cut through the campaign rhetoric to find out what a candidate truly stands for, so here are a few online resources to get people started.

A good jumping-off point is Project Vote Smart, a nonpartisan research center offering extensive information on most candidates across the country. Enter your zip code in the designated box on the left-hand side of the page to find your area's current state, local, federal, and judicial representatives. Below that list, you'll see all of the local candidates running for office in 2006. You can also use the search bar to quickly find the goods on specific candidates. One of the most interesting features is the 'Interest Group Ratings,' which tell you what liberal and conservative interest groups think of those candidates who have voting records.

Brooks Jackson, the director of FactCheck.org, recently told BBC News that, 'In my considerable experience covering US campaigns, I can't think of a more negative one. Both sides are at it.' Negative advertisements can be not only a major source of misinformation, but can also turn people off of voting in general. In order to cut through the truthiness, FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, keeps tabs on political advertisements and dissects their claims. From ads smearing candidates as deniers of body armor to troops, to others accusing candidates of profiting off of Medicare, the website provides extensive and accessible nonpartisan analysis that separates the facts from the spin.

One interest group that always has a great voter's guide is the National Organization for Women. An interactive map of the United States lets users find feminist candidates in federal, state, and local races throughout the country. The website also has extensive profiles on many of the candidates, including a link on how to donate to each campaign. You can even register to vote through the website, if you haven't done it already.

The League of Young Voters is a national organization trying to make candidates listen to young voters instead of just talking about them. The group's 2006 voter guide provides well-researched information on candidates in an engaging format: An interactive US map takes users to local leagues' picks for many races with information on endorsed and unendorsed candidates. You can also check out individual contributors' guides, or, better yet, design and post your own.

Go there >> www.vote-smart.org/

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