by Jenni White, special contributor
The Oklahoma State Election Board on Wednesday published links to the ballots for Oklahoma voters in the November 8 General Election. You can find the ballot particular to Luther’s geopolitical area here. If you are not in the Luther Township, click on this link to the State Election Board. Here you will be asked to enter your name and address to find the correct ballot for your area. Fill in the blanks, click the search key and your ballot will be displayed for you to read, print or download.
Voting is an important step in exercising our citizenship, yes, but it is even more important to know our choices BEFORE we enter the voting booth. Truly, there is no way to tell whether your candidate represents your views by voting a straight party ticket. You may have identified for years as either a Democrat or a Republican, yet, an Independent or Libertarian candidate may have views closer to your own if you research their background and views. Voting simply to exercise the right of voting does not produce a government of the people, but an informed vote will go a long way toward the goal.
Study the ballot. If you don’t know the names of people running for public office, three things can happen: 1) You can leave the space blank; 2) You can cast a vote in ignorance, 3) You can cast a confident vote knowing you’ve done at least some research about the person whose name appears on the ballot.
If you choose the third, and arguably best option, but you have no idea where to start to find information on candidates, try any of the following organizations through the links provided:
* VoteSmart. Put in the name of the politician you want to research, it will bring up a picture of the candidate, you click on the picture and then, once the name is in the search box, click below on the folders including bio, votes, positions, ratings (from organizations like National Rifle Association for instance, based on the answers to questionnaires the candidate has provided), speeches and funding.
* BallotPedia is another website you can search for both specific and general information on candidates including how much funding they have received and from whom.
*Vote411.org is a website of the League of Women voters. It has information on state questions as well as individual candidates. All you need do is enter your address into the form and the voter information for your geopolitical location will come up for you to search.
* The Oklahoman often provides information on elections.
* The internet can be a tremendous resource here. When in doubt, type in the number of the state question or the name of the candidate you’re researching and see what pops up. It’s always best to make sure of the source when you do this, however, to look at this information with a critical eye and be wary of any ‘spin’ provided by organizations or individuals having a particular political agenda.
Do not forget; voting isn’t really a ‘right,’ it’s a privilege and one that should be exercised with all due diligence. Take time to study the candidates, the state questions and issues before voting in this important presidential race next month because better informed voters can produce elected officials and government more likely to represent the views of their constituents and our state.