You’ve just changed jobs, and this one’s really demanding. You recently moved. Maybe you struggle just to get by financially: work, sleep, work, maybe socialize on weekends. A romantic breakup has you tied up emotionally. In any of these scenarios you feel too stressed out to give much thought to voting in November. And you certainly don’t want to cast an uninformed ballot.
But the November, 2014, elections are especially important to women. While we won’t be electing a President, we will elect women and men whose decisions impact our daily life.
Here are suggestions on how you can quickly find out which candidates best represent you:
1) Choose one or two issues that are most important to you: the environment, education, reproductive rights, income inequality, the national debt, immigration, racial justice, gay rights, taxes, health. There may be another issue that personally affects you.
2) Find out who’s running for office. You’ll need to know what district you’re in. votesmart.org is a helpful site, or Google your state’s name and “voting districts.”
Yes, there are a lot of positions to be filled, but don’t let yourself be overwhelmed. I suggest you pay particular attention to just five office holders: at the federal level, U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative from your district; in your state government, governor, your state senator, and your state representative. Your U.S. Senator has a six-year term so may not be running this year. Your governor might not be running either. In this case you only need to learn about candidates for three or four positions.
3) Now begin matching the issues you’re concerned about to the person. Again, votesmart.org is a helpful site, though it does seem to give the person currently holding the office more prominence. Also, it can be a little confusing in that it identifies individuals who already lost in primary elections.
4) Go to candidates’ websites. Check them out in social media, Facebook in particular.
5) Ask someone whose opinion you value who they’re voting for and why. Then go to the candidates’ websites to make sure their stance on issues agrees with yours.
Only a hundred years ago women fought hard for the right to vote. Some went to jail, many were publicly humiliated. (My grandmother was among the first generation of women to cast a ballot.) When they did finally get the right, many relied on their husband to tell them who to vote for.
As a woman today, you have more education and experience “out in the world.” You can decide for yourself who supports your values, what candidates will work to ensure the best future for you, your children, our country, and our world.
Don’t let a few individuals determine the future for you.