How to be an informed, critical voter in 4 easy steps

Alexis Simmons

It is clear that both sides of the aisle make fact-checking a burdensome, yet necessary task. An informed voter does the following to ensure they vote according to their values.

1. Avoid taking statements with grandiose verbiage at face value. Both candidates have used extreme language to drive home a point on various occasions, but there seems to be a correlation between excited language and inaccuracies. This is especially true with polling.

2. Always check the processes by which a survey or poll was taken. Scientific polling is the most accurate, and often the media or candidates will incorporate push polls in reports, which are not scientific. Nate Silver’s website is a respected and thorough resource to check polls across the nation. It provides polling information from many polling services, including companies such as Gallup, RealClearPolitics, and HuffPost Pollster, and then averages them out with an analysis.

3. Take to the candidate’s “positions” portion of their official campaign website. The best place to find what a candidate believes is not from tweets, news reports, or other outside sources. You can follow up on claims made on the website with a quick google search or visit to PolitiFact.

4. Be aware of SuperPACs and special interest groups. On occasion, SuperPACs will pay for an ad to be run against or for a candidate. It is crucial to know who is paying for this ad to be made. An example of this can be seen in an ad paid for by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) that was run against John Kerry in 2004. The ad made false claims about Kerry’s participation in the Vietnam War and discredited the validity of his Purple Heart. The ad ultimately had a negative impact on Kerry’s campaign, despite being full of false claims.