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Election tip of the week: How to select your candidates

Editor’s Note: The following is part 2 of a series of Election 2020 tips offered by the DeKalb County League of Women Voters ahead of the Nov. 3 General Election. Read Part 1 on You can also view information on all local candidates at Shaw Media Local News Network’s Election Center at

When selecting your candidates during an election, it’s important to know whether they will vote the way you want them to on issues that are controlled by the offices they will hold.

For an incumbent, someone already holding office, compare their voting record to how you would have wanted them to vote. You can do this by searching multiple sites online, whether you are trying to track a local, state, or national representative.

When learning about new candidates, start by examining their websites thoroughly. If you don’t see some of the issues that matter to you, it may be because a person in this office won’t have any say on those issues. For instance, a local legislator won’t have a voice on international issues. Conversely, state and national legislators won’t have a vote on local issues such as property taxes or referendums for new schools.

After you have done your research it is advisable to try and attend a town hall or candidate forum with the incumbents and their challengers. Sometimes you may have the opportunity to attend these events in person. More often, especially for state or national races, you may have to view them via streaming or broadcast media. This year, many events will be virtual, but you can still learn a lot from them.

During a town hall, you will often have the opportunity to present questions that matter to you. During a debate, questions may be taken from the audience, or they may be pre-selected by a moderator. Either one is a great venue for you to learn more about your prospective candidate. Consider attending a fundraiser if you’re able to afford the cost of entrance. If not, try calling your prospective candidate’s campaign office on the phone, or contacting them via email with any questions you may still have.

Keep notes on both the information you collect about the candidates for each race and the comparisons you make between them. How many important issues does each candidate agree and disagree with you on? Do you think this person will make decisions using thesame general beliefs that you hold? Will you be better off if this person or the other one is making the decisions? Review all your notes before you decide whom to vote for.

No matter how you inform yourself, it is important to be as knowledgeable as possible before voting. Ad campaigns are not the ideal way to make decisions, because these are developed to create impressions and are often sensationalized, or worse, deliberatelymisleading. Trust your gut only after doing your own research.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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