How to Be an Engaged Voter in the 21st Century

We are ONE WEEK AWAY from the 2016 General Election. This election cycle, aside from all the scandal and ridiculousness, has been dominated by one overriding theme: revolution. Unfortunately, it seems that only during presidential elections, once every four years, do most people become heavily invested in the conversation and debate regarding their governance. But a political revolution in our representative democracy would need to occur from the ground up, not the top down. Therefore, it’s state and local elections, which happen much more often, where true change could occur. Let’s look at the definition of a revolution, from the Dictionary.com website:

revolution (noun)

  1. an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.

  2. Sociology. a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence.

The concepts that resonate with me here are “thorough replacement” and “pervasive change” because that’s what I think most people who are inspired by the idea of a revolution want. This is where it gets difficult.

More people vote in the presidential elections than any other elections (American Idol and The Voice, excluded). Perhaps if their favorite candidate is not on the ballot, or they are unsure of the issues, they don’t know what to do.  

We’re in the information age and there is no shortage of ways to access information. So here are a few resources so that you can become the kind of voter you want to be right now and for every election, every year, from now on.

Rock The Vote

Rock The Vote is an oldie, but a goodie. They’ve been partnering with celebrities since 1990 to get the word out and help young voters get ahold of the resources they need to register and vote. But people of all ages can benefit from the state-specific election info on their site.

I also highly recommend learning about the history of this organization and watching some the great videos stars have done.

Countable

More than any other election in history, consumption of information about the 2016 Presidential Election has been happening on smartphones and computer screens, especially via social media. Countable makes learning about the issues and forming a stance very easy.

From their website: "Countable makes it quick and easy to understand the laws Congress is considering. We also streamline the process of contacting your lawmaker, so you can tell them how you want them to vote on bills under consideration."

But how do they do this? Countable has cleverly taken it upon themselves to do the work of staying on top of the issues and summarizing the YEA and NAY positions so that users are given the chance to get this info right on their website or their app. You get an easy to understand breakdown of the issues and then you make your decision.

They also make contacting your lawmaker, a truly REVOLUTIONARY act in this day and age, very simple.

Countable is available for free online, on iOS, and Android devices.

iSideWith

The candidate's positions are an important part of why we choose to vote for them, but sometimes it’s hard to determine exactly what their positions are. It’s also a bit difficult to know what our own positions are on issues until we are made to declare them. iSideWith.com has an extensive quiz that compares your stances on a lot of different issues with each of the candidates and finds which candidate is most aligned with your personal politics.

Trust me, if you’ve ever taken a quiz on Facebook to find out which superhero you are, this is basically the same thing.

Newspapers and Magazines

Journalism, true journalism, requires research, editing and fact-checking. Traditional media, like newspapers, are one of the few disciplines that still hold true to that level of professional integrity. I won’t be endorsing a newspaper here, but I highly recommend doing a little bit of research to find a publication that reflects your views. A good way to start is by selecting a major city that you feel represents you and reading their major news publication.

In addition, magazines are a great resource, especially if you are curious about how the world outside of the USA views our political process. Magazines are often a bit more of a commitment because articles are much longer, but if you want thoroughly researched information, it’s hard to find better sources.

Don’t forget, newspapers and magazines will have a website, so if a trip to the newsstand isn’t your cup of tea, you need not go any further than your phone or computer.

Politico or RealClearPolitics

For the more motivated and politically minded individual, Politico and RealClearPolitics are politically-focused websites that feature content culled from all sides. All parties are represented and the info is top notch. When you are ready for deep dive into the world of political commentary, these sites will be invaluable.

AND FINALLY…….

 

Stay off Facebook

Remember how a team of fact-checkers and editors reviewed that last few things you’ve posted or shared on Facebook? Right. That didn’t happen. Nor does it happen for MOST of the political blogs that post articles on social media. If you want to be an informed voter, the Facebook algorithm is probably not your very best friend. It's obviously entertaining, or maybe terrifying, to read all of the opinions in your NewsFeed, it can be taxing on your mental health if that is the only source of information that you turn to in order to remain informed.

 

HAPPY VOTING!!!

 

The information and opinions in this post are those of one man and not meant to be representative of anything EXCEPT a desire to be an informed and engaged citizen.