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Know Your Ballot
Election Day is November 3rd. Are you ready to vote? Do you know what your ballot will look like, or who or what will you have the opportunity to vote for?
Preview ballots are available from usa.gov and from Ballotpedia. Select the state where you are registered to vote (or enter your address), and you will be able to view a sample ballot.
First Election? No Problem.
Getting ready to vote for the first time? You have two things to do:
- Make sure you are eligible to vote in the state of your residence (see: voting requirements by state). In Missouri, you must be at least 17 and a half to register, and 18 to vote.
- Register to vote!
You can vote by mail or in person.
If you are voting in person, your voter registration will tell you where to go (your polling place). Make a plan to travel to your polling place! If you think you will need time off work or class to travel to the polls, let the appropriate people know.
If you are voting by mail, you can request a ballot be sent to your address. Fill it out and be sure to have your ballot in by the mail-in deadline. The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch has a guide on understanding mail-in ballots that includes dates and other requirements.
If you need your ballot notarized, the S&T Library has free notary services available. Email us to set up an appointment.
Know Your Candidates, Issues, and Ballot Measures
A candidate is anyone running for public office. Researching candidate platforms and understanding where they stand on issues can help you determine who you wish to vote for.
You can learn more about the candidates for each and every office at:
- Candidate websites. Candidates create websites to showcase their platforms and plans. A quick Google search on the candidate of your interest will bring up an official website dedicated to their ideas.
- Local news outlets. Both the Rolla Daily News and the Phelps County Focus are available for free. They sometimes showcase candidates or issues, particularly those with a local perspective.
- Voting records. If a candidate is running for reelection or they have previously been in elected office, how they voted while in office (on bills, resolutions, etc.) is a matter of public record. A quick Google search (on the candidate of your interest plus "voting record") can help you understand where they stood historically on issues of interest.
You may also be asked to vote on ballot measures, sometimes called referendums or propositions. You will have the chance to vote for or against any particular ballot measure.
You can learn more about ballot measures and read the associated text that will be shown on your ballot at:
Know Your Sources
Ask questions as you research candidates, issues, and proposed laws! Looking for information in more than one place can be beneficial. Some questions you can ask as you research are:
- Who is speaking? Where is this source from, and whose views are represented? Is it from a person, or a group of people (publisher, political organization, etc.)?
- Who is not speaking / whose voice is missing? A well-balanced publication offers viewpoints from different sides. Is there anything missing? Looking for gaps can tell you something about the publication's own biases.
- Do they cite their sources? Candidates making a claim should tell you where they are getting their information. Often they will provide a source (usually a link). You can follow the trail of sources - which views do the sources represent? Are the sources credible? Even if they don't list any sources, you can still research the issue and see if the candidate's words match the reality of the situation.
- Who paid for this information to be available? Publications cost money, and websites are put up by a single person or sometimes by a group of people. What are their motivations for paying for/hosting this content?