Service member holds up voting ballot

Don’t Just Guess, Know. How to Become a Responsible Voter

It’s your civic duty as an American to vote. It’s also your right to make sure you’re voting for the candidate who will do the best job for your community, state and nation.

  • Voting is one of your most precious American rights.
  • Research the candidates running in the elections in which you are voting.
  • Think carefully before you cast your ballot.

Whether you are voting for the school board, city council or president of the United States, your vote will help set the course of the nation for years to come. Do your research to cast the most informed vote possible.

  • Know yourself and the issues important to you. Think about what concerns you -- health care, education, religious values, and equality. Once you determine what matters most to you, seek a candidate who shares those values.
  • Look for candidate qualities you can support. Research the candidates' platforms and try to figure out what each one plans to do while in office. With a little investigation, you can feel good about casting your vote for someone who will support your values.
  • Be skeptical. Candidates sometimes say what voters want to hear. Try to determine how they plan to accomplish the goals they promote in the campaign. If they have been in office already, check out their votes on past issues.
  • Find information from diverse sources. Don't limit your research to websites, talk shows or news outlets that support one candidate. Find outlets that seem neutral or unbiased.Check out outlets representing the other side, so you can consider topics from different perspectives. Limiting your research to just one source may restrict your understanding of the issues.
  • Be careful about what you read and choose to believe. This is especially important for information about a candidate from an opponent.

Once you have enough information on each candidate, you can confidently cast your vote.

Stay respectful during election season

However you get involved in an election, show courtesy and respect for the views of others. Follow these simple tips:

  • Respect those whose beliefs differ from yours. The great thing about being an American is the ability to think and speak out about our beliefs. Democracy was built on our differences. You may learn something new if you listen and engage others in conversation.
  • Be sure any social media or media tidbits you may want to pass on about a candidate are accurate. Remember, what you send via social media may affect others who don't share your beliefs or sense of humor.

Be prepared when it's time to vote

Be ready to vote on Election Day. Here are some ways you can prepare in the months and weeks leading up:

With research and respect, you can vote confidently this election season.