What you'll get out of this post
We all want to find an easier way to do research. This article highlights some key points:
- Start by looking for a list of candidates online. Do a search through your registrar of voters website.
- Visit their website and social media, if they make it hard to find pass on their vote
- Do a Google search using key words. Try also using key words you wouldn't use or are against your values
- Still in doubt? Send them an email or message, no answer? Then there's your answer!
- Check their C&E and FDS reports. They are public knowledge and if you do a quick search, they are easy to find.
Remember, the right candidate is not afraid to share all this. At this point you can also ask your friends if you still aren't sure. But chances are you'll know by then if they are worth your vote or not.
Looking for the right candidate
I've been asked by a few people now, how do I research the candidates I vote for and how to I stay organized when everyone wants my vote?
Well, in a world that is filled with so much going on at once and people both good hearted and selfishly sleazy, it isn't always easy to feel confident in picking the right person. So what can you do?
First of all, I find it useful to find out where you are, who you can vote for, and if there are any special laws that would prevent a candidate from going on to the general elections after the primaries are over.
For example. Do you know what ward or precinct you are in, are there certain districts that you can or can't vote for because of what your address is?
So What's my process?
The first thing I do is look to see if my county has a listing of all candidates running for office. Each county or state may be different so do a quick search, usually for your registrar of voters. For washoe county, each election year they have a new page. The format is the same but the link changes. For 2020 I used this link: https://www.washoecounty.us/voters/elections/20electioninformation/candidates/index.php
Here's my process (usually between 5-10min. per person is good):
I first pick one of the drop downs that I know I'm voting on and I'll cnt/cmd+click each name to open a tab for each candidate. There is usually contact info and if they are really serious they will fill out a lot of info or at least a website that can provide more info.
After I check each person out and do a quick search for their website, I'll look for answers that are important to me. If their contact info or website isn't easy to find, I pass on voting for them.
I'll also then do specific Google searches on topics that I may not see right away such as, "(Candidate name) Gay Marriage" or "(Candidate name) Pro-Choice" or "(Candidate name) Scandle (or Accusation or other keywords media likes to use)".
I also follow each candidate on social media just to see what they post. If I see that I marked I "Like" their page but already turned off the follow feature, That's my que that I already don't like what I see. Sometimes I'll do searches like I'm thinking like both a Republican or Democrat and use searches like Pro-Gun, Social reform, pro-abortion, vote for Immigration, or vote against women's rights, just to see what comes up. If you don't feel comfortable searching for this stuff, turn on the the incognito feature on your browser.
Lastly if I have time, I'll send an email to them on any burning questions I might have that I couldn't find an answer to on my own. If I never hear back, I may not vote for them when I'm on the fence already.
I know that might seem like a lot. I typically set aside only one day to do the actual sit down research because my time is valuable. After I do that research, I'll mark down who I'm voting for or give it about a week to think and decide if I'm not sure yet.
Show me the money!
If you want to also do a search for what your candidate spends stuff on or who contributes to them, you can check out their C&E reports really easy. It's all public knowledge but again each state or district may have it in a different place. Just do a search for "Contributions & Expenses Report" (C&E) and "Financial Disclosure Statements" (FDS). For the state of Nevada, I check them out here: https://www.nvsos.gov/SOSCandidateServices/AnonymousAccess/CEFDSearchUU/Search.aspx#individual_search.
For Nevada you also have the ability to follow a candidate and receive emails whenever they file a new report. I follow several myself and know exactly where their money goes. It's required to stay on record so you can see what they did in the past too. Heck if you are interested, I'm even in the Nevada database, feel free to do a search.
I do also sometimes ask others who they like, but its usually on candidates I'm not sure about yet. I also understand that a lot of new candidates are all over the place and are very green. Its not a bad thing because it's hard to know what to do as a candidate. Those who have done this for a while are better at just telling you what you want to hear so you will vote for them.
You also have the option most years (not really this year) to go and meet candidates face to face during candidate forums. Those are fun because you get to see how "normal" they can be. Or how much of a pompous ass they could be.
The point is, if they are serious, they will want your vote. It doesn't matter what kind of money they have, what matters is if they allow you to learn about them and make it easy for you to see who they really are. When you find someone who you can tell is a normal person, just like you or me, you'll know it. You'll know if that person is really going to represent who you are and it shouldn't be that hard to find out. If it is or you can't make a decision, maybe it's because that candidate isn't really the right choice for your vote.
Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't be afraid to pass on them because they don't make the cut. Happy voting and good luck!