On Tuesday, November 6th, millions of Americans utilized their civic duty and voted in the 2018 midterm elections. While voter turnout has increased since the last midterm election, overall participation of eligible individuals who exercise their right as to vote is still at less than 50% of the total voting population according to USA Today. Some of the underlying issues of voter turnout involve feeling less informed about the world of politics. As Com Studies students it is our job to keep up with current events and help spread awareness of all issues even political ones. It is sad to see that several of our peers have chosen not to exercise their right to vote because they did not know enough to made an educated vote in the midterm elections. In an effort to combat these feelings of uncertainty, here are five tips to help you (an important potential voter) feel more educated and involved when making your next decision at the ballot box.
(Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels)
- Download An App
As simple as it sounds, there are several applications for Apple and Android that have the sole goal of cutting stories down to a few digestible bullet points. These apps reduce the amount of time you as the reader have to spend searching for information and can be read within the short breaks throughout your daily activities. Some app suggestions are theSkimm, BriefMe, and iCitizen. TheSkimm synthesizes all the important stories for the day into one page. BriefMe gives you the top 10 stories from each day according to the amount of social media engagement with that story. iCitizen organizes stories in order of personal importance to you; for example, if you care about Gen X in the water, iCitizen will notify you of information and updates on that issue.
- Politifact.com is your friend
Since their start in 2007, this website is run by a not-for-profit organization that has dedicated their cause to accessing the statements of political figures and the truth behind their statements. In their about page you can read about their non-partisan process and funding as well as how they score statements. You can browse various political issues like food safety or gas prices and then see how political officials approach these issues. Then you can see if they publish truthful statements about these issues or if they are lying to their audience. They also have different branches for each US state so you can read issues that are local to your area. This website will also take you to the exact articles where these statements where taken and can be a great reference when creating content about a political topic. It can give you a general overview of issues and serve as a good starting point before creating any strategic marketing or crisis management plans. Though it is a stressful job, someone has to manage public officials’ crisis and it might as well be an educated Com Studies student.
(Photo from PolitiFact.com)
- Turn on CNN
According to Pew Research Center, CNN caters to a politically moderate audience and thus is more unbiased than say Fox News or MSNBC when it comes to reporting on politics. While it does have a slightly left lean, CNN covers all issues in American and international politics. They also have short videos on their website that condense all the stories of the day into ten minutes so one can watch it as they get ready for their day. If you find yourself in a bind to get information about the world around you, CNN provides a way to get informed fast and lets you go about your daily routine. But remember, try to check multiple sources of news media before you make a decision on a situation. That way you can limit the bias you have on a topic and see both sides of an discussion. It is important when studying communication that we access all information available, even if it does not match our personal beliefs on the issue.
(Photo from makeameme.org)
- Check out USA.gov
Curious about our civic history? Well USA.gov has an extensive collection of data sets and resources to help you grow your bank of knowledge especially when it comes to voting. They are not only a resource for historical reference, but also explain the different processes of elections we have in the United States. You can learn the details of what makes a Presidential election different than the midterms as well as key voting laws within your state. In addition to personalized laws, they can also help you find your voting center and help you register to vote online. It’s never too early to register to vote!
- Volunteer in the Community
The best way to learn about the needs in your community is to volunteer with a local nonprofit. Through this form of engagement you will make connections with members of your community and learn what hinders development in your surroundings. You get to see the first hand impact of a new law on voter ID requirements or affordable healthcare when you put yourself in an environment where you will be exposed to these issues. We as Americans are often apathetic because we have not felt the pain of those in need around us and the only way to lift their burdens is to extend a hand by volunteering. When you give your time to a cause, you are not limited to fixed the immediate problem in front of you but you are also creating the change for a brighter future.
All in all, every single one of us has a voice that is important and deserves to be heard. If you did not vote in this past election just remember that your vote does matter and that you can help those who have yet to be granted the ability to vote in this country. Think of those are not old enough to vote or have had their voter registration put on hold because of corrupt laws. When you vote you are deciding what is acceptable for your family, your friends, and yourself to held accountable to in the long run. So stop reading this blog, get out there in your community, and do something to make yourself heard.
Check out these links about the midterm elections and register to vote:
Some people don’t realize how important exercising your right to vote can be and how much it matters to vote. I asked a few of my friends if they were going to vote and they acted like it did not matter to vote and that they wouldn’t be making a difference. But it is so beyond important to vote, no matter how little you think your voice is. This post will be sent to those friends who think voting doesn’t matter! I also love this post because when I was going to vote, I knew what party I would be choosing, but I did not know too much about the candidates, so using some of the websites you provided, I was able to make the right decision when voting!
I’ve always been extremely passionate about voting. During the 2016 election, I volunteered to help people register to vote, as well as encouraged students to vote by signing a pledge card. While I’d like to think I have a good idea about what is going on in politics, I went into the midterm election not knowing one name on the ballot. After reading this article, I feel better prepared for the next election and plan to use these techniques to research the candidates.