How to Choose a Candidate

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In deciding on a Congressional candidate, how can I tell how far to the left or right they are without doing a lot of digging?

GovTrack has an interesting page that gives you a sense of a US Senator’s or Representative’s ideology to the right or left. This should NOT be the only factor you use to select a candidate, but it will give you a general idea about where they will probably stand on many issues. More about this in the next question.

Does the candidate have the Transparency In Politics Certifcation Seal?

When you see this seal, you can be sure that the candidate has posted a verified background check from PeopleTrail. Check back to see which candidates have posted their background check. You can also join our email list to be notified when a new background check is posted.

How should I decide whom to vote for?

We need to look at voting like we look at hiring. We should ask the question: Is this person a good fit for the job? Choosing a candidate simply because they belong to a certain party, or not choosing them for that reason, is not the best way to make decisions that will affect our community, state or country for several years.

Why voting by party is not the best approach

Voting strictly by party certainly is ONE way to a make a decision, and a very simple way; but that method does not necessarily lead to good leadership at a time when we have so many problems to solve!

For example, if you hired someone just because they went to a certain church, that would give you a little bit of information about them. However, this would give you no information about their skillset or experience in the workplace! Some would say that it might not even give you information about their character. 

So you can see that by choosing someone for a job based on one specific criteria (like party or religion) does not necessarily lead to the best match for a job of an elected position. This is why choosing someone because of their party affiliation can lead to choosing people who are not right for the job. This explains why we have so many problems that are not being solved!

And then there are a lot of non-partisan races, like judgeships, school board, mayors and city council. Voting for a certain party is useless here!

Resources for better decisions on voting

Below is a great resource to help you make good decisions about selecting candidates when it comes time to vote. The League of Women Voters has long been a trusted source for unbiased accurate information about voting. I’ve added additional comments.

League of Women Voters “Seven Steps for Judging Candidates” 

The last step in the process will link you to a Candidate Report Card form that is adapted from the League of Women Voters.

Consider these points:

Review the information in your Candidate Report Card  to compare all the candidates. Ask yourself these final questions: 

  • Which candidate’s views on the issues do I agree with the most? 
  • Which candidate has the leadership qualities I am looking for? 
  • Who ran the fairest campaign? 
  • Which candidate demonstrated the most knowledge on the issues?

Is the choice clear? If so, pick a candidate. 

There are so many campaign ads during election season. How can I avoid the distortion techniques used by so many campaigns?

The League of Women Voters has a great article, “How to Judge a Candidate that covers distortion techniques and how to avoid them.

How can I determine which political party is the best fit for me?

  • Ballotpedia’s table lists all ballot-qualified political parties in each state as of December 2021. Click the red bar “show” to expand the table.
  • Read about the new “Forward Party.” They are on the ballot in some states.
  • Take the Pew Research Quiz to see which party most closely aligns with your values

“Given how much time, effort, and expense businesses and certain government agencies invest into checking candidates’ backgrounds, I am perplexed and disappointed that we as a nation are failing when it comes to elected representatives. How is it possible that Santos could lie about virtually everything — from his educational background to his work experience and even his ethnicity — and use so many variations of his name and still be sworn in to serve?”

Barry McManus, Former CIA chief interrogator and polygrapher

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