Monday, October 4, 2010

Resource: Learn about your candidates

Posted By on Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 2:23 PM

I don't know about you, but I feel like I know more about what's going on in California's, New York's and Delaware's elections than I do about what's going on in Mecklenburg County's election. That could be because cable news channels, online news sites and even comedians are seemingly fixated on a few candidates in those states.

Fortunately, we have about a month to educate ourselves on who is running in our area.

But, one more thing complicates local elections: Districts. I live in west Charlotte, so while some of the candidates that will be on my ballot — like those for the U.S. Senate — will be the same as those on the east side of town, most of them won't.

Even more fortunately, the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections' website can help you figure out who's running in your area and who's funding their campaigns. While on their site, you can also check your voter registration status and, if you haven't already, register to vote. (The last day to register is Oct. 8.)

Here are a few direct links for you:

The site has much, much more information available, so take a few minutes to poke around and see what you see. And, come back to it. Why? Well, here's one good reason: The third quarter just ended, so candidates will be submitting their latest campaign finance disclosures soon (their deadline is Oct. 17), and they'll likely be online "minutes after" the Meckleburg County Board of Elections receives them, so they tell me. Don't you want to know who's filling your candidates' war chest? I do.

Once you've spent some time on the website, expand your research. Check out the candidate's websites and social media accounts. For federal politicians, you can look up their voting records at (enter your zip code under the "Get Involved" heading). Investigate state politicians on the N.C. General Assembly's web page. Learn more about county politicians on the Commission's website, and sift through the meeting agendas and minutes to get a feel for how the commissioners work and what their stance is on issues that are important to you. Do the same for the City Council.

Being an informed voter is serious business, but don't let all of these sites and the information they contain overwhelm you. If you look into a couple candidates per week, you'll be able to walk into the voting booth in November feeling confident about your picks.

Remember: Voting in every election is important. One more thing: Don't vote, don't bitch.

Further reading: NC Senate hopefuls differ on tax proposals —

This video, full of great reasons to vote, was created for the last presidential election, so don't let the date at the end fool you. Election day is Tues., Nov. 2 this year. (Some trivia: It's always the first Tuesday of November.) Go ahead and plug that date into your calendar with a reminder so you won't miss your chance to raise your voice.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. Additionally, she's on the steering committee for the Greater Charlotte Society of Professional Journalists. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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