Friday, October 30, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Vote Smart

It’s the last Feel Good Friday before the election and here’s something to feel good about – Vote Smart.


Vote Smart is a political research organization that has been providing non-partisan, unbiased information to voters since 1992. Their mission is “to provide free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to ALL Americans.”


How does it work? As explained on the website, over 7,000 volunteers spend time “researching the backgrounds and records of thousands of political candidates and elected officials to discover their voting records, campaign contributions, public statements, biographical data (including their work history) and evaluations of them generated by over 400 national and 1300 state special interest groups.” There are multiple ways you can find the information you’re looking for. Watch this 4-minute video to get details on the programs or keep reading.


I Spy is a collection of information on over 40,000 politicians that includes their bios, votes, positions on the issues, ratings from special interest groups, speeches, tweets, and funding sources. All you need to do is put in the name of the politician you’re interested in and start reading! You can trust the information on the site because Vote Smart posts a BULL icon by comments that have been proven false by, PolitiFact or the Washington Post.


Political Galaxy is a flashy and fast way to select a politician and an issue then find out where they stand by viewing their special interest ratings, votes and speeches. You can also get this information on the mobile app, On Point. With millions of facts at your fingertips, you really will be able to vote smart. 


Finally, you can use the very engaging Vote Easy resource to determine which candidate most matches your views on the issues. Go to this link and either “click on a candidate’s sign to see their positions on key issues OR compare your issue positions to those of all the candidates.” While you probably don’t need this to make your decision on your vote for president, it may come in handy for the congressional races. It’s also fun to use. 


If you’d like to support the work of Vote Smart, there are several ways you can help out. Put your researching skills to work by becoming a volunteer, make a donation or share these resources by liking the Vote Smart Facebook page and following them on Twitter @VoteSmart.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Vote Save America

Only two Feel Good Fridays left before election day so it’s time for more voting resources. Today, we’ll focus on Vote Save America.

Vote Save America is a project of Crooked Media, the team that brings you the Pod Save America podcast and many others. As explained on their website, Vote Save America is “a website, an initiative, and a community to help guide you with each step you need to take throughout the year to have the impact you want.” Provided the impact you want to have is a more progressive national agenda and a new President.


Like many of the organizations we’ve been sharing in recent weeks, Vote Save America’s site includes information on registering to vote, requesting an absentee ballot and important deadlines for every state and US Territory. For example, you can find everything you need to know about California here.  


There are also resources to learn more about the records of the Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees and their stands on issues including: coronavirus response, healthcare, economy, education, foreign policy, climate, criminal justice reform, guns, voting rights and election reform, immigration and reproductive rights. Even if you know who you’re voting for, these pages are worth a look. In the coronavirus response section, policies listed under Biden include “enacting a universal mask mandate” and under Trump say “being a dick to Dr. Fauci”. Actual policies are included too.


Last, Vote Save America provides creative ways to volunteer, including becoming a poll worker or partnering with Fair Fight as a hotline volunteer or poll observer. You can also Adopt a State and get resources to help organizers, volunteers and candidates in six key battleground states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wisconsin.


If you’re reading this blog, I’m confident that you’re voting in this election. If you want to step up your participation use the links above to find the right volunteer opportunity. If you’ve got more money than time you can donate to one of Vote Save America's targeted campaigns: Get Mitch or Die Trying (elect key Democratic Senators and flip the Senate) or F*ck Gerry(mandering) Fund (flip state legislative races so new, fairer maps can be drawn in 2021). Last you can spread the word on social media by joining their Facebook group and following them on Twitter @votesaveamerica.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Democracy Works

As we count down to election day, we’re keeping the voting theme going. Last week, we shared the story of TurboVote. In today’s Feel Good Friday we’ll talk about their parent organization, Democracy Works.

The vision of Democracy works is to “make voting a simple, seamless experience for all Americans so that no one misses an election.” It’s the brainchild of Seth Flaxman and Kathryn Peters who, after missing several elections when they were graduate students, were inspired to build a reminder system. In 2010, they launched this system under the name TurboVote

As explained last week, TurboVote is a tool that provides voters with information they need to register, details on where and how to vote and reminders about important deadlines. Democracy Works also collects and standardizes election data that is used to produce polling place and ballot data. That data is then used in Google searches and by election officials, universities, organizations and companies who want to embed an interactive tool on their own sites.


Finally, Democracy Works helps election officials “build new tools and share technology, as well as best practices, so they can best serve their voters.” That includes adding intelligent bar codes to mail ballots so they can be tracked and providing a reporting tool that feeds directly into the USPS to help escalate concerns related to election mail.


All of these programs help Democracy Works achieve their mission of serving voters, powering elections and building a better democracy. If you want to be a part of it you can support Democracy Works with a donation and by amplifying their message on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @demworksinc. And for goodness sakes, #vote!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Feel Good Friday - TurboVote

Hard to believe that Election Day is finally less than a month away! Let’s celebrate with a Feel Good Friday post highlighting the work of TurboVote. 

A program of Democracy Works, who we’ll profile next week, TurboVote is “a tool that helps you vote, no matter what.” Since 2012, TurboVote has helped 9 million voters keep track of voter registration, absentee, and vote-by-mail rules for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.


TurboVote’s website includes a page titled How to Vote where you can look up information for your state. Resources on how to register include instructions and links on who can vote, how to register, how to check your status and a list of key dates and deadlines. For example, in California the online registration deadline is October 19th but you have until November 3rd to register in person.


Once you’ve got your registration taken care of, you can research how to vote. TurboVote explains where you can find your polling place and what you’ll need to bring with you if you vote in person. They also provide tips on voting by mail and resources to find your ballot measures online.


Best of all, if you sign up with TurboVote, they’ll send you text and email reminders about registration deadlines, upcoming elections and where to vote!


So how do you get involved? Research information on voting in your state, get reminders by signing up with TurboVote and stay in the loop by liking the TurboVote Facebook page and following them on Twitter @TurboVote.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Black Voters Matter Fund

It’s Feel Good Friday and we’re continuing our voting rights/election theme with the Black Voters Matter Fund.


Headquartered in East Point, Georgia, the goal of Black Voters Matter (BVM) is “to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities. Effective voting allows a community to determine its own destiny.”

BVM works to achieve this goal while keeping five core beliefs in mind:

  • Respect and support local infrastructure
  • Black voters matter every day
  • Black voters matter everywhere
  • Messaging must be authentic and speak to the issues
  • Leadership of Black women must receive recognition and investment


Their work focuses on increasing voter registration and election turnout. BVM also advocates for voting rights and access issues such as expanded early voting, resisting voter ID and strengthening the Voting Rights Act. Last, they work with other groups to help them develop infrastructure, provide staff training and network development.


The BVM website has a voting toolkit with information and links on how to register, request an absentee ballot, check your registration status and get election reminders. There are also state-specific resources for people living in FL, SC, TN, GA, LA, NC, PA, AL and MS. Most fun, the Black Voters Matter “Blackest Bus in America” is currently on the road as part of a national voter outreach initiative. Watch a short video pinned on the BVM Twitter page to see where the bus will be next.

If you’d like to support the work of Black Voters Matter, you can volunteer for an activity such as phone banking, writing post cards or fundraising. You can also make a donation or raise awareness by wearing some BVM merch, liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @BlackVotersMtr.