One of the key actions we can take as U.S. citizens is to vote. But, sometimes complex ballot measures, unsavory choices, and lack of time can derail us from this important act of democracy.
It’s now election time again, and as usual, there are many complex measures and important candidate choices on the ballot. Now, voters have more ways to get the information they need to make an educated decision.
Californiachoices.org and smartvoter.org provide nonpartisan, objective information about ballot measures, candidates, and even local election info, as well as some other interesting features to help voters at election time and beyond.
Californiachoices.org gives voters “information about endorsements, polling data, pro and con arguments on ballot initiatives, video clips from supporters and opponents, recent press coverage, and in-depth background information.” It also allows voters to easily share information through e-mail or Facebook.
Next 10 founder Noel Perry told the CA Fwd Radio Show his organization is working with the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies and several other organizations to ensure voters have easy access to information.
“In California, there are many things going on politically. There are many initiatives each year. We thought this would be a way to help voters better understand some of the choices,” he said.
Perry said Californians need to get engaged to help the state deal with “some major challenges.”
“California is at a very important point right now. We’ve been challenged with the debt problems at the state level and the economic downturn,” said Perry. “When voters are better informed, they’re going to be able to make better decisions about the future of the state.”
On June 5, there are two statewide ballot measures, but come November, there may be up to 12 complex statewide initiatives on the ballot, not to mention various important local measures.
In addition, voters can also help get their friends up to date by sharing information over social media and holding election parties – printing out the ballot, and discussing the issues over hors d’ouevres.
“Part of what I think is dangerously lacking in our culture right now is safe conversations about what it means to be part of a community and what we want to get out coming together,” said Jennifer Waggoner, President of the League of Women Votes. “Getting people together where they can have real conversations, where it’s non-combative, where it’s really safe is important.”
Waggoner is also concerned about the fact that people get discouraged from voting when they think their vote doesn’t matter, but it can actually become a source of positivity which reaps rewards in your community.
Research shows that “people who report the greatest sense of happiness and satisfaction with their community live in communities where there is a high level of political engagement,” Waggoner said. “If everyone has a voice, the community really is stronger. It will make California a safe, vibrant, dynamic place to live. But, it will also be fairer and more just.”
And, it all starts with taking the simple step of registering to vote, and then filling out and casting your ballot at each election.