Friday, March 4, 2016

It's an Election Year!

This is a big election year, and a lot of people have questions about how to register to vote, where to get information about the candidates, or how to change your registration. So we've collected some links to help you navigate the election stream.

If you live in Pennsylvania, one of the best places to start is This site from the Pennsylvania Department of State permits you to register online to vote, change your political party registration, obtain an absentee ballot application, or find out where to register in person at your county voter registration office. You can also find your polling place address, what kind of ID is required to vote, a demonstration of the voting system, and more. Not sure if you are registered? Click on "Register to Vote" then "Confirm Your Registration" to search your name and find your status.

And don't put off registering too long: you need to register by March 28 in order to vote in the general primary on April 26. The last day to register for the general election is October 11.

There are a number of non-partisan sites to help you find out more about both the incumbents for your area and the candidates running for those seats. Some ask you questions to help you figure out who agrees with your convictions most strongly. Others give you more of an overview for all the candidates for your area. Sometimes you have to visit a couple different sites to find one you are comfortable using for your voting information. offers a quiz where you can answer how strongly you feel about certain topics, then tells you how closely your beliefs align with presidential candidates' statements or voting records.

Project Vote Smart asks for your zip code, then searches for all the candidates for the positions you'll be voting on. Read their biography, find out how they voted on issues important to you, or what their position is on key topics. is a project of the League of Women Voters Education Fund. This site provides personalized voting information based on your home street address.

Other sites focus more on fact-checking the candidates to evaluate if they are telling the truth or 'stretching' it, or they 'follow the money' to find out what companies have contributed to a candidate's campaign.

For fact checking, try either or PolitiFact has a Truth-o-meter to give you a short answer to the accuracy of candidates' statements, with longer analysis and explanations provided by independent journalists. FactCheck covers both political statements and news stories for accuracy, with specific sections for checking science-based claims (SciCHECK) and groups spending money to influence elections (Players Guide).

Keep following the money by exploring either or the National Institute on Money in State Politics. OpenSecrets is produced by the Center for Responsive Politics, and focuses on "tracking money in U.S. politics and its effects on elections and public policy." The second group identifies campaign contributions for state politicians, too: click on "My District", enter your complete street address, and see who the top donors were for your elected officials.