As the U.S. prepares to elect a new president on November 8, an overwhelming amount of information floods our airwaves, newsstands, and social media streams. Unfortunately, not all of it is trustworthy. Whether you’re researching candidates and campaigns or simply double-checking your polling place and registration, here are some nonpartisan websites to bookmark for your reference this election season.
Beginning with the basics, Illinois’s State Board of Elections offers a page of Information for Voters with quick links to registration, important dates, and a list of candidates. Enter your address or birth date on the Cook County Clerk’s site to find your polling place or apply for a vote-by-mail ballot.
Researching a candidate? Project Vote Smart is a volunteer-driven organization that compiles voting records, public statements, endorsements, and campaign finances for more than 40,000 politicians from every state and party. Ballotpedia, “the online encyclopedia of American politics and elections,” has a similar mission, but relies on a paid staff of researchers and writers.
Quite a few websites are now attempting to verify the statements candidates make in speeches, debates, ads, and tweets. The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact uses a trademarked “Truth-o-Meter” to rate statements on a scale from “True” to “Pants on Fire!” The ratings can be scanned at a glance, but each one is backed up by articles, author names, and sources. (PolitiFact is run by the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper in Florida, with contributions from other local news organizations.)
Finally, the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets project tracks the impact of money on elections. Combining Federal Election Commission filings with other data exposes “dark money” as well as traditional donations for a uniquely thorough accounting of the dollars that drive decisions.
Let your local librarians know if there is anything else we can do to help you make your decision in November!