midterm election

The 2018 midterm elections are now right around the corner—only five days remain before the polls open on November 6. And no matter your age, race, gender, or political affiliation, everyone is encouraged to go and vote and fulfill your civic obligation as a citizen. But if you want to vote for the representatives and propositions that really support your interests, it’s important to be properly informed about what they believe and what they will do. Here is a list of ten good tools to help you become an informed voter, originally compiled by LifeHacks:

  1. How To Vote In Every State provides detailed information about, well, how to vote. This page provides details on the voter registration process, how absentee and provisional ballots work, and what the actual voting process is like when you go to the polls to cast your ballot. If you’re not registered to vote at this point, it may be too late for this election, but at the very least you can learn valuable information ahead of the next one.
  2. To learn about absentee voting, the deadlines involved with registration and voting, or who the candidates on the ballot will be, visit the US Vote Foundation. They even have a new Facebook messenger bot (GoVoteBot) that can answer questions within the messenger app.
  3. The US is noted for having election days in the middle of the work week, meaning many Americans have to balance their work schedule with taking the time to vote. FindLaw’s State to State Election Law Guide details, by state, whether your employer is required to give you time to go vote, how much time that is, and the specific legal parameters for that time.
  4. The sheer number of elected offices, candidates, and issues handled by those offices can easily be overwhelming. Project Vote Smart gets into the weeds with each candidate for President, House, and Senate on their stated positions, proposals, and their experience with the selected issue. Simply select an issue, answer a few questions about your opinion, and then learn where each candidate stands on it.
  5. If you’re concerned about knowing who is financially interested in a candidate or an issue, look no further than OpenSecrets. This non-profit tracks which companies or political action committees (PACs)donate funds to which candidates, as well as information on “dark money” that’s given to campaigns by people who try a bit harder to avoid campaign contribution laws. You can even explore this information for local races where you live.
  6. The explosion of fake news websites and greater willingness of candidates to stretch the truth (or just outright lie) means fact checking is becoming more popular than ever. The well-known FactCheck.org is one of the best places out there to find out if a candidate—from any party—is making true and accurate claims, and for making sure people can hear/read statements in their proper context.
  7. If, for some reason, you didn’t receive a sample ballot in the mail from your local election authority, Ballotpedia can fill the void. You can see not just the major candidates on your ballot, but the local propositions and smaller local offices like sheriffs and judges. You can even get really deep in the weeds and find information on very local elections like school boards.
  8. Vote411 offers a similar service to a few other resources on this list, but it really comes in handy with its provision of print-friendly voter guides that you can actually take with you to the polling station. Having a filled-out guide with you when the moment comes can be incredibly helpful for remembering key points about people on the ballot, and to help you take your time so your decision is the right one.
  9. Another long-standing non-profit, Vote.org, provides easy access to information about voter registration, getting an absentee ballot, and other details of the voting process. It is noted for being quick and easy to use, and utilizes election “centers” to give people closer looks at the issues relevant to their area.
  10. Finally, there is Google. It doesn’t work the same way as the other resources on this list—it’s not a political database, and it doesn’t track campaign finance figures. But it is one of the most ubiquitous tools that provides access to the rest of the sites on this list. Google can help you research candidates, check your registration status, and find your polling place. It is the web that ties these resources together—it only takes a quick search.