While students wait for their mail-in ballot or to vote in-person on Election Day, they can find out what offices and candidates are on their ballot. (45 minutes)
Who’s running for office this election cycle? What offices? What candidates? What do you know about them? Why are they important? Discuss down ballot races and the role state and local governments play in making the laws that affect us on a daily basis.
Office, incumbent, challenger, down ballot races, opinion polls, ballot question, partisan, nonpartisan, federalism, branches of government. executive, legislative, district, redistricting, Senator, Governor, minor party, independent, spoiler effect, Committeeperson.
Before going to vote, it’s important to learn about the candidates so you can be an informed voter. There are usually a lot of candidates and offices you’re less familiar with than the presidency, so you’re allowed to bring along a personal “cheat sheet” or voter guide with the candidates you’ve chosen. In this lesson, we’ll learn where to find partisan and nonpartisan sources of information so you can evaluate the candidates and make informed choices for your own voter guide.
Who’s on my ballot? Part 1: Finding nonpartisan information about candidates.
Go to the Committee of Seventy ballot tool and enter your email and your home address. Explain that this is an example of a nonpartisan source, and we’ll look at partisan sources later. If you’re not in Southeastern PA, use Vote411.org.
Are any races uncontested? Are there any offices not on the ballot? Why not?
Go to the your county elections webpage for a complete list of candidates for office. For example, do a web search for “Philadelphia City Commissioners list of candidates for office” if you are in Philadelphia. This list has every candidate on your county’s ballots. Are there any other candidates listed in your districts? Discuss minor party and independent candidates. What impact could they have on the election? Discuss the spoiler effect.
Go to the nonpartisan page Ballotpedia and enter your address or the names of the candidates on your ballot. Read about each candidate and add information to your T-charts. Another optional nonpartisan source is Vote411.org.