The youth vote in the 2008 presidential election was the second-largest turnout in American history for 18- to 29-year-olds. It showed everyone what an incredible impact young voters can have on an election when they head to the polls in force. This year’s race is showing all the signs of being even more hotly contested than four years ago. If you’re a 20-something who’s decided to make your voice heard this year, we applaud you. And as a reward, here are 20 tools to get you up to speed on the details of our democracy.
Democracy blends with social networking in this new web tool. Use your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts to find friends who are registered to vote and interact with them about elections you can impact whether they live in Hawaii, Alaska, Utah – doesn’t make a difference. You can also stump for candidates you like and unite with your social connections to spread the word about your candidate.
With this simple game you can decide which presidential horse you’re backing in a few minutes while you’re riding the bus or killing time between classes. As you answer whether you agree, disagree, or have no opinion about 14 statements on the issues, a drawing of the candidate you agree with the most will overtake a drawing of his opponent’s face, giving you a clear visual on the man for you.
The popular fact-checking website has dug into more than 500 of the promises our current president made during his last campaign and grouped them into the categories of the economy, energy, military, and taxes. If that’s too much reading, they’ve even got a “Top 25 Promises” list. If you’re thinking of giving President Obama a second chance, it’s worth checking to see how many of his promises he’s kept or put in motion and how many he’s compromised on, stalled, or flat-out broken.
If lower taxes, less government, and more freedom are things that appeal to you, then you’ve got a friend in FreedomWorks. When it comes time to vote for your Congressional representatives in November, take advantage of the report cards FreedomWorks has compiled on every House Representative and Senator in the country. It’s an easy way to check how they’ve been voting (and if they’ve been voting at all, for that matter).
This website has a number of cool tools and resources for the politically curious. There’s a presidential candidate quiz with 39 questions, including some fun ones like should weed be legalized and whether you believe in evolution. An interactive map of all 50 states is also a cool resource for seeing which candidates your state sides with as a whole and where your state ranks the issues. (Just bear in mind this is an Internet poll, which may skew the results toward the young and tech-savvy.)
You’ve probably heard of Factcheck.org, the nonpartisan website that cuts through the hype to expose politicians’ white lies and exaggerations. Frankly it can get a little dry. Try skipping over to its sister site, Flackcheck.org, for the lighter side of D.C. deception. You’ll find entertaining videos under categories like “They Said What?!” and “Taking Down the Worst.”
Unless you’ve managed to completely tune out every bit of election news until you turned 18, you will have heard of Super Political Action Committees, or Super PACs. But you may not have known what they are. They may sound cool, like the Justice League of politics, but they’re more like the giant mole on the face of democracy. Research group OpenSecrets maintains a database on the biggest ones in the country and the absolutely ungodly amount of money they’ve spent in this election cycle.
This one ranks lower on the scale of usefulness but scores higher for entertainment value. Politwoops tracks and reproduces for your amusement tweets that politicians post then delete, sometimes clearly as a result of scolding from an aide or PR rep. Some of the better ones of late include “i hate math but im so good at it” and “Cream soda is life. The rest is details.”
The name refers to the number of electoral college votes it takes to win the White House, a part of the election process that confuses even veteran voters. The interactive U.S. map shows you the expert predictions of how each state will vote and gives you the ability to revise it with your own prognostications and share your map with your friends. A slick bonus feature is the ability to map every single Electoral College result since 1789.
CNN’s Election Insights:
Curious to see if it’s just your friends who won’t shut up about this candidate or that one on their Facebook updates? CNN has teamed up with the social networking site to track by gender, age, and state how often each presidential candidate and each running mate is being mentioned each day.
Yes, this campaign is so desperate that it ends up being about as cool as D.A.R.E. was. However, the “Election Center” tab does have some good info for you, like common questions about voting as a student, absentee voting, and voting as a felon (hopefully that doesn’t apply). So at least check it out and make Jane Lynch happy.
If you’re a young Hispanic voter, you may be surprised at what you find by playing around with this online tool. Use sliders to estimate the percent of Latino voter turnout and the percent voting Republican to get an immediate visual of how the election would be affected by different scenarios.
Maybe you’re all ready to vote like a responsible young citizen, but you aren’t exactly sure where you stand on some of the more obscure issues like mandatory labeling of genetically modified food. Non-profit site ProCon.org presents all 2012 presidential candidates’ stances in their own words, so that you can both form your own opinion and see how the last two candidates in the race match up with you.
In the mood for a road trip? Grab some friends, throw some food in the car, and hit the highway for the nearest appearance of Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, using this handy tool as your guide for where each politician will be and when they’ll be there, from now to November 6.
You still can’t make up your mind whether you’re an Obamanaut or a Mittonian? Then check out ElectNext. It’s been earning rave reviews for prioritizing the issues over the talking heads. Just choose the issues most important to you, answer 10 questions, and the computer spits out the candidate you’ve always wanted to vote for without knowing it.
The technology geeks out there will already be familiar with this page’s sister site, Techmeme. Memeorandum has the same text-heavy layout of the gadget news site, which is a bit of a minus, but the time you’ll save by having all the election news you need smartly categorized into one place is a major plus.
The 2008 game has been updated for this year’s presidential election to put you in the driver’s seat and see how well you would do working with America’s federal budget. The tough decisions you’ll have to make should give you a newfound understanding of what our leader has to go through.
Young or old, Indiana or South Carolina, something every voter is concerned with is the old pocketbook. This tool takes some personal info like your age, marital status, and zip code and estimates what each candidates’ policies would cost you financially. Don’t like what you find? You can make political contributions through the site as well — consider it an investment in your future.
Politix takes election news aggregating one step further by letting you filter the news that’s important to you by candidate, location, or issue. There are also apps for iPhones and Android users so you can read news on the go.
For the nitty gritty of actually casting your vote, Smart Voter is the best online resource. You can find your nearest election center, see a copy of exactly what your ballot will look like, and even get tips on how to watch debates and make your choices.