Get Informed. Vote Smart.

Getting the facts about presidential candidates can be a painstaking, arduous process—we know. However, educating yourself about the contenders and where they stand on the issues doesn’t have to be difficult. Keep reading for our quick guide to making a well-informed voting decision.

Go to the official websites of the major presidential candidates for this election. Each party posts a statement of their platforms. While this is usually a lot of information to digest, zeroing in on a few issues that are important to you can help you determine what sort of candidate you are looking for. Check out the links below:

Democrats National Platform

Republican National Platform

Utilize social media. Candidates aren’t the only ones who utilize social media to distribute information about their campaigns. Many nonprofit associations devoted to delivering unbiased media use Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs. Look for impartial organizations like Followthemoney.org and @FactCheckdotorg.

Compare each candidate’s answers on important issues. One easy way to do this is by listening to the debates—really listening. Try not to fall for the sound bite trap – any Colbert Report viewer knows that it’s easy to take something out of context and make it seem outlandish.

No time (or attention span) to watch a lengthy debate? An alternative is Project Vote Smart, a website that makes it incredibly easy to determine which candidate will be an ideal match for you. This page includes all candidates, even from independent and green parties.

Talk to professors and other experienced voters. While the same information is available to your professors as to you and your peers, experienced voters may possess some insight into the bigger picture (which, after all, is the most important part about voting). Seek out your favorite professor and start a discussion about how current issues may impact future legislation and policies. Be sure to take into consideration that he or she may be biased based on their usual political affiliation.

Stay in-the-know and up-to-date. It’s not unheard for candidates to flip-flop or for issues to slightly change in the last few weeks of the election. Be sure to continually monitor current events right up until the election.

Don’t forget to enter our Rock the Vote Pledge to Vote Sweepstakes! Why? Because just voting is not enough. Because we are the future.  Because four years is a long time.

What’s your reason for becoming an informed voter? Tell us here.

Written by Guest Blogger, Alycia Terry

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