Friday, November 4, 2016

3 Unbiased Election Websites to Recommend to Patrons

Are you or your patrons struggling with locating neutral information about election candidates? This was a question posed on Facebook recently, and the librarian community stepped up with three great suggestions. We thought we'd cover them here today so this information isn't lost in the black hole of the internet.


Ballotpedia call themselves the Encyclopedia of American Politics. We found them really easy to navigate and learn of general information about the candidates on your ballot. If you click on their names, you'll be redirected to a very comprehensive report on where they stand on the major issues, their campaign trail, and the polls. You won't find quick answers here on where they stand, but they are unbiased. 

They also provide all of the local measures and if you click on them, you'll be redirected to a page which provides an overview, background, who supports and who oppose and their reasoning why, campaign finance and more.

Vote Smart

Vote Smart's website is a little bit confusing in the beginning. You must type in a candidate's name or your zip code BEFORE you can click on the category folders. And the zip code might have too many district. Even when I provided my exact address, the list of candidates included people who weren't on the ballot. So, it is better to search for specific people on this website.

The categories are really helpful. They include the bio info, their votes, their positions, ratings, speeches, and funding. Vote Smart is a supporter of the Political Courage Test, which asks candidates to provide voters with their positions on key issues. Most candidates refuse to take this test, so Project Vote Smart has taken the time to research the presidential and congressional candidates' likely responses, based on their public statements and voting records. For those who don't want a comprehensive read, this section provides a simple yes or no to each key issue.

Vote 411

Vote 411 provides full election information from the League of Women Voters. Not only can you learn about your candidates, but they also provide the answers to all aspects of the voting process:
  • Absentee ballot information
  • Ballot measure information (where applicable)
  • Early voting options (where applicable)
  • Election dates
  • Factual data on candidates in various federal, state and local races
  • General information on such topics as how to watch debates with a critical eye
  • ID requirements
  • Polling place locations
  • Registration deadlines
  • Voter qualifications
  • Voter registration forms
  • Voting machines

While they do provide a personalized ballot, showing you who are the candidates that are running for office and where they stand on issues, we have found that they don't always provide more info than people's names. So, double check for your district before you recommend this website. Editor Note: We are unable to find any personalized ballots at this time, so we're now thinking that perhaps this part of the website is currently down. Hopefully, it'll be back up soon and provides more information than candidate names.

And there you have it -- in less than 5 minutes, three great and neutral websites that'll arm your patrons with the knowledge they're seeking. Happy voting, everyone!


  1. Thank you! This post was incredibly helpful this week

    1. You're welcome. Glad to hear you found this useful!