Primary primer – How to know how to vote
Bottom Line: I’ve recently received a number of notes from listeners asking many excellent questions regarding next Tuesday’s primaries. Not only are many voters uncertain about whom to vote for in many partisan contests, there are many more who don’t really know where to start when it comes to non-partisan races – especially judicial races. I know that for every person who reaches out to me with these questions there are many more who have them. I don’t endorse candidates for office, but I want to be as helpful as possible so I’m going to attempt to be as helpful as possible by sharing what I do to when researching candidates.
What issue or issues are most important to you pertaining to the race for that specific office? Once you define those issues clearly you can specifically seek out answers to those questions and see if one candidate stands out the most to you on those issues. Even if multiple candidates seem to be similar or saying the same kinds of things, I often find that if I prioritize what matters most to me and seek those specific answers starting with the candidate's website, I'm able to notice differences in those issues or at least the priority of those issues with those candidates. If that doesn’t do the trick...
Ask the question. Every candidate website has a page to contact the candidate or the campaign. If you still aren’t clear on the specific issues that matter most to you, ask the candidates/campaigns. Feel free to email or call. I’ve found that it’s generally easy to speak directly to the candidates when you call (and no I don’t tell them who I am to attempt to gain access). Otherwise, sending an email or note to the campaigns often works, one way or another. If they provide information for you to contact them but you can’t successfully have your questions answered – that also could be a tell about the candidates and how responsive they’d be to your concerns if elected. If all else fails...
Check the endorsements. If there are specific organizations or individuals that you respect the opinion of generally – look for them on the endorsement pages of the candidates. You’ll likely spot names and organizations you’re familiar with that could help you if you’re really struggling to make a decision.
These races are often the most difficult for voters and often receive the fewest votes. Historically we’ve seen fewer votes in non-partisan races than their partisan counter-parts. Many people simply aren’t sure of whom they want to vote for, so they don’t. That’s not a good answer. All elections have consequences. Hopefully this will help.
First up, I look for the issues once again. Where do they stand? How prominent are the issues they’re raising as key concerns to you? If you find that what they’re focusing on issues you care about – you might find your candidate. If you find that they’re prominently focusing on issues that you don’t think are highly relevant or you disagree with generally – you might be able to rule them out. As a right leaning voter in South Florida I often vote for candidates that I disagree with the least. Being altruistic is a bad idea. We’re living in an era where socialists are winning offices in this country. I’d much rather have someone who’s left of center win a race over a socialist. Especially when we’re talking about judges. Next up the endorsements.
Nowhere are endorsements more helpful than in these races. Again, look for organizations and individuals and see if you can identify any that you view as significant – one way or another. Often, I’ll use the process of elimination when there aren’t any candidates I want to vote for and am instead voting for the person I disagree with the least. If there are a plethora of organizations and individuals I strongly agree with that lineup behind a person, that can often help me disqualify them.
Hopefully this is a helpful way to get started. Btw, this doesn’t have to be laborious. You can likely make most of your decisions in under thirty minutes. Happy voting!