In all democracies around the world, it’s the people’s right to vote that ultimately determines the outcome of an election.
An informed citizenry is not only desirable from a social standpoint, but it’s also beneficial from a personal point of view.
By staying on top of the latest election and candidate developments, you’ll become a more informed voter and member of society. Knowing the intricacies of candidates’ platforms and the key changes they’d like to make in the country will also help you hold informed political conversations with others when the election really starts to heat up.
To help you stay on top of 2016’s presidential election developments, we’ve compiled the following six resources.
Note: Neither the writer nor MakeUseOf is advocating for any political party in writing this article. All resources listed are given as information outlets only.
270toWin (Web, iPad)
This is much more than a place to make predictions for the 2016 election, though you can do that here, too. 270toWin allows you to map which states are leaning toward the left, which are leaning toward the right and which are undecided.
It also provides a host of political news updates and information about Senate, House, and Governor Elections.
There’s also an iPad-exclusive app, which helps you find more information about your state’s political history as well as predicted electoral vote counts for 2020 and 2024, and a whole host of factual information. Most features of the app also work without an Internet connection.
Download: 270toWin for the iPad ($0.99)
Rock the Vote (Web)
Aside from being the largest non-partisan and non-profit organization in the country, Rock the Vote keeps the millennial voting bloc informed and aims to facilitate a clear line of communication with the younger generation.
By visiting this site you’ll find everything you need to know about how to register to vote, how to check your registration status, where to find the nearest polling places come Election Day and much more.
The site also includes its Tumblr blog, where you can find thought pieces voting issues such as marriage equality and civil rights. (Check out this list for even more engaging political blogs on Tumblr.)
If you want to take your political education a step further, Rock the Vote also provides many volunteer opportunities for those who want to get actively involved.
Real Clear Politics (Web)
This is a more advanced resource for those looking for up-to-date electoral information. It’ll be an excellent site to watch over the coming months for the latest polling information and which candidates are favoured in what areas.
The site also hosts political news videos, which can be useful for anyone who prefers to learn via visuals or who doesn’t have the time to tune in to traditional televisions reports.
This engaging election tool will help you stay on top of the candidates running for President while also providing you with information about the candidates’ election prep strategies.
The online resource provides a wealth of information with regards to the key factors affecting a candidate’s decision to run, and what they would need to do to win.
The tool does not include independent parties in its calculations, however, so its usefulness is limited to voters who side with either Republicans or Democrats.
Meerkat (iOS and Android)
This is a free live streaming video app that many politicians are using to get their unfiltered messages across to tech-savvy individuals. It is, however, locked in a battle with Periscope, an app of the same variety.
Meerkat allows users to stream live video footage from their phones and push the content to their followers on Twitter. Provided you’re following a few political figures and/or journalists, you’re likely to find it an amazing way to stay informed and up to date on the ongoings of the election.
That said, there is one drawback: streamed footage can only be watched live, so if you miss anything you won’t be able to see it after the fact.
Also, if you plan to use Meerkat you need to follow their community guidelines, which include no threats or bullying. All material must be respectful of other users.
Download: Meerkat for iOS [No longer available] |Android (Beta) [No Longer Available]
Ballotpedia offers insights into the Democrats and Republicans running for president, along with individual profiles for each potential candidate. You’ll also notice a clock ticking down the time left until the 2016 presidential election, as well as information about each state’s voting history.
The map midway down the page is an interactive guide on how each state has voted in the past, broken down into percentages of voters who have voted Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and Green. As the 2016 election moves forward, this information will be updated for each state.
You can also check the newsfeed for a range of recently published articles relating to your specific political interests. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you may be able to attend a few of the party conventions nearest to you.
Why Researching Presidential Candidates Matters
Being an informed voter is an important task all members of society should take seriously. It can be tempting to vote straight ballot or vote based on appearances alone (as many U.S. voters do), but taking the time to research candidates’ platforms and political agendas will make you feel more confident about casting your vote.
At the very least, taking the time to follow election developments and the different candidates will help you bond with voters who share similar political views, or intelligently explain your views to voters with different ones.
Do you have a favorite election resource not mentioned here? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Public Domain Archive