The Importance of an Informed Vote
By Cobb Collaborative Intern, Chris Jennings
It’s nearly impossible to escape the constant flood of political advertisements and political discussions during election season. For many Americans, voting may seem like a daunting task that requires a lot of preparation with limited time and resources. Other Americans may recognize the importance of voting but fail to adequately educate themselves on the issues and candidates they are voting for each election. When you make the decision to vote, it is vital that you feel ready to make informed decisions on issues that affect your community as a whole. As a voter, you are actively participating in the democratic process, and the decisions you make at the polls have a direct effect on your life and the lives of others.
An informed voter recognizes the importance of their vote, while also educating themselves on where the various candidates stand on different issues. If you want to ensure that you are prepared and informed, it is important to seek information from as many types of trusted sources as possible. Voters should utilize both news outlets and social media platforms to get information. Finding a variety of ways to learn information about the candidates will give you the upper hand on avoiding persuasive political advertising. As a voter, you have to be weary of outside influence and rhetoric to appropriately educate yourself. Informing yourself about the different candidates on your ballot, and the stances they take on different issues is a great starting point. It is important to look at the candidates individually instead of solely focusing on their party affiliation. Oftentimes, voters may be unaware of the candidates running for local offices, and only educate themselves on candidates that are running for higher offices. In an effort to be completely informed, you should research all of the races that will be on your ballot.
It is equally important to educate yourself on the different amendments and questions regarding referendums that you will be voting on, which often don’t get as much attention from mainstream media. You want to make certain that the votes you are casting accurately reflect your own opinions. Determine what issues you deem are important and construct your own judgements about them. If you aren’t adequately informed, it becomes more difficult to make decisions that align correctly with your own personal values.
It’s crucial to recognize the importance of an individual vote and the power it holds. There are various nonpartisan sources that voters can utilize to gain knowledge, while simultaneously avoiding unwanted political rhetoric. Some great sources for nonpartisan information are vote411.org, gamvp.branch.vote, and ballotpedia.org. These sources can aid you with researching candidates and personalizing your ballot. After you finish determining who and what you are voting for and how you are going to vote, it is a great idea to write everything down so that you can bring it with you to the polls.
This election, make sure you go to the polls with a set plan so you can feel more confident in all your decisions. As Americans, we should feel proud of our opportunity to have our voices heard through the democratic process. Recognizing your responsibility to make an informed vote and how your vote impacts your community is critical if you want to see an impact. Every time you are given the opportunity to vote, you are exercising a freedom that many people have fought for and are still fighting for to this day. For more information, head to cobbcollaborative.org/vote-your-voice.