Making Informed Voting Decisions
Being an informed voter is just as important as voting itself. Not sure how to mark your ballot? As a non-partisan center, the MCCE will never tell you how to vote - but we do have lots of tools to help you make the decisions that are right for you.
Our Tools for Politics and Elections (pdf) include links for political understanding and self-assessment, voter registration and education, youth participation, and basic civics / other cool and inspiring stuff! As always, when reading anything online be sure to keep a critical eye on the Media Bias.
Dr. James Moore, the MCCE Director of Political Outreach, also has some specific tips for the process of voting on ballot measures vs. candidates. We asked him to break it down for us:
Dr. Moore, how do I decide how to vote on ballot measures?
Start with your Voters Pamphlet. A Voters Pamphlet will be delivered to all registered voters shortly before each election. The pamphlet is a great resource for ballot measures because it lists the text of the law that will be changed and the financial impact. Of lesser value are the paid arguments & endorsements. When considering these, look for quality over quantity - an endorsement from a group or official you trust is worth more than an entire list of unknown endorsers.
Note: If you are staying in University Housing, voters pamphlets can be picked up at the Mail Room. Oregon Voter Pamphlet are also available online and voter guides and resources for understanding what's on your ballot can be found for all 50 states at Vote.gov.
Okay, How do I decide what candidates to vote for?
Here the Voters Pamphlet is less useful, because the content is crafted by the candidates themselves (much like their websites and press releases). Get the most out of these descriptions by comparing how the candidates present themselves and if their listed concerns match up with your own interests. But to dig deeper you will need to review media coverage in statewide and local papers. Don’t trust everything you read on social media - elections bring out strong opinions and fraud, so in this case traditional media is worth your time. Also, consider watching a debate or two. Debates offer a unique view of candidates’ temperament and opinions. For example, in 2018 the three candidates for governor in Oregon participated in the Debate for Oregon’s Future— where Oregon youth asked questions about topics that matter to our generation. The MCCE hosted a viewing party in the UC and will continue to host such viewing party for future elections.
Also - I am a teacher. As I talk with my students, I tell them that the main thing I look for in candidates is if they can learn.
Any other thoughts on how to prepare for an election?
Pacific students in the Spring 2019 "Video for Civic Engagement" class have a few idea:
- Making Informed Decisions with Reverend Chuck Currie, a short video created by Delaney Dallas '20.
- Making Informed Decisions with EDI Director Narce Rodriguez, a short video created by Cassidy Inman '23.
- Making Informed Voting Decisions with Professor Jim Moore, a short video created by Sebastian Herr '20.