This week is election week over in the UK. It’s what we call a General Election, which means that our entire government is going to be shaken up and changed for the next five years and we’ll potentially also have a new Prime Minister. It’s an exciting time; the election hysteria is everywhere at the moment, with all of our political parties constantly reminding us of their policies and why they can do a better job than the rest in the hope of securing our votes.
Whilst political systems from country to country are very different from one another, voting processes are likely to be similar. You decide who you think will best govern your country and you vote accordingly. Easy, right? Well, that depends. Knowing who to vote for can be overwhelming and sometimes off-putting, especially if, like me, you’re not someone that lives and breathes politics. Whilst I’m not here to tell you how important it is to exercise your right to vote (because I’m sure that all of you that are able to already know this), I’m here to offer some tips on how to be an informed voter; understanding the electoral process, how to figure out which political party most closely resembles your ideals and your beliefs.
Crucial to your being able to vote is actually registering. To some, it may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve had plenty of conversations with people who forgot or were unaware they had to register to vote. Speaking as an English person, registering to vote is the same for everyone here regardless of whereabouts in the UK we live, but as most of you are likely to be from across the pond, the process of registering to vote is different from state to state. Fun fact: if you’re in North Dakota, you don’t even have to register! It is, therefore, best to consult your state government’s website and find out the specific process you need to complete in order to exercise your right to vote.
It is also important to understand how your country’s governmental system works, so that you can understand exactly why you’re casting your vote in the first place and how it will affect you on a local and national level. Again, this will be different for every country, but assuming that most of you are from the U.S. of A, the official White House website gives a really great explanation of everything you’ll need to know.
Next, if you don’t already have a good idea, you should work out where you situate yourself in terms of your affiliation to a political party. Are you more of a Republican, a Democrat or something different from the standard two options? A really awesomely detailed quiz you can take which should give you accurate results can be found at I Side With. It will ask for your stance on a number of different topics and then give you a detailed breakdown of where you place on the political spectrum. I took the test and I’m not even a U.S. citizen, but it’s interesting to know all the same!
The final step would be to decide which issues matter the most to you and check out your local representatives and where they stand on the policies you care most about. I Side With shows you the most prevalent issues currently concerning the U.S. population as a whole, but it would also probably be worth checking out your local government’s websites to get the lowdown on how these issues are affecting your individual community. Another great site I came across that will give you an unbiased and condensed breakdown of your local politicians and their personal stances is Vote Smart. This site allows you to find who your local politicians are based on your zip code, as well as providing essential info on U.S. governmental figureheads, including President Obama himself.