6 Sites, Quizzes, and Apps Every Voter Needs to Master the Issues
BY ZACHARY MARKMAN
Once upon a time, voting in America was for the few and the privileged. Nowadays, even though voting is for nearly all citizens of legal age, only about half of eligible citizens summon the motivation to actually get into a voting booth.
It’s not for lack of knowledge. Thanks to easy, accessible resources like Buzzfeed, “Last Week Tonight,” and your incredibly opinionated cousin on Facebook, there have never been more ways to read about politicians and the election process.
When you want something easy, accurate, and informative, where are the best places to learn about politics? These websites and apps will help you become an informed voter—without having to watch C-SPAN.
Democracy isn’t a spectator sport, y’know—make sure you’re registered at Vote.org.
First things first: Be on top of your voter registration status. Recently moved? You need to re-register to vote. Not yet registered? Follow the steps on Vote.org to make sure your local polling place (or absentee ballot) is ready for you on Election Day. (BTW, that’s November 8, 2016.) Avoid any potential headaches caused by last minute surprises and get registered before the deadline in your state. It’s also a good idea to make sure you know and understand the rapidly evolving voter ID laws that may affect your state.
iSideWith lets you compare your values with those of the presidential candidates in an easy and clear quiz.
iSideWith offers a simple, no-nonsense quiz to help you determine which political candidates align most closely with your values. Complete a few questions about each issue (environment, foreign policy, economy, etc.) and you will be given a compatibility rating with political parties and presidential candidates. The user interface of the quiz is friendly and the phrasing is easy to understand, even if this is your first foray into voting. No gobbledygook here.
Not sure where you stand on an issue? Get views from all sides on ProCon.org.
ProCon.org offers thorough, two-sided arguments on a variety of contentious topics. Looking through “Issues We Cover” will provide you with pros and cons, so you’ll be well-versed next time someone brings up something like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The site is encyclopedic in its coverage and is a great place to research for the 2016 presidential election. Use the summary chart to see not only where the presidential candidates stand, but also where they have previously stood. (Hint: Not always the same, for better or worse.) Clicking on a politician’s stance on one of the columns brings up a full quote for context and clarification of their nuanced position. ProCon.org also offers a candidate quiz of its own if you still need help picking.
4. Vote Smart
Amp up the visual factor with a galaxy of information on Vote Smart.
With so much attention focused on the presidential race, countless voters turn up to the polling place without an idea of who to vote for on the rest of the ticket. Vote Smart provides the information you need to make a decision, presented in a visual map (they call it a “galaxy”). If you respect an advocacy group or organization, you can browse to see its opinion of a politician and vote in line with that. Read through press releases under “Speeches” to see stances straight from the source, look at voting histories to make sure people vote the way they speak, and check out campaign finance details, all at your fingertips.
Your vote counts for much more than POTUS. Let Ballotpedia inform you on the rest.
Need to know more about local politics? Ballotpedia lets you enter your location to discover the elected officials who represent you and view a sample ballot that includes upcoming state propositions. You can use the sample ballot generated to find out some of the smaller names who will be running for office this November and which groups offer endorsements to them.
Swipe left or right, not to get a first date, but a customized voter guide.
Voter is a user-friendly app for your smartphone that lets you hone in on your ballot choices in a hurry (like in line at the polling place—not that we’d recommend procrastinating until then). The app brings up photos with political statements and puts your Tinder skills to good use, prompting you to swipe left or right to agree or disagree. At the end of the series—ta da!—you’re presented with a cheat sheet showing how you should vote on the ballot. You can also register to vote from a link in the app. Even when the issues are complex, democracy doesn't have to be.