Use Project Vote Smart to learn more about your candidates
by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, November 2, 2006
You may have noticed it’s election season. If our feature this week wasn’t signal enough, you can look to the deluge of campaign ads on street corners, television sets and billboards as markers that voting time is upon us. This Tuesday, Nov. 7, when you head to the polls to partake in the fall festivity, you’ll have a number of choices to make. Many of said choices will hopefully be aided by our election guide in this issue, but you may want to do some of your own research as well. If that’s the case, Project Vote Smart is your answer.
The Alibi teamed up with Project Vote Smart earlier this year in an effort to deliver more resources to you, dear reader, when it comes to knowing your candidates [News Bite, “Vote Smart,” July 13-19]. Project Vote Smart (PVS), a nonpartisan voter awareness organization, lists candidate biographies, issue positions, campaign finances and voting records (if any exist) on their website, www.vote-smart.org.
This summer, PVS sent out National Political Awareness Tests (NPATs) to New Mexico Congressional, gubernatorial and legislative candidates, asking them to honestly state their positions on topics ranging from immigration to war to health care to education and so on. As reported in the Alibi [News Bite, “Vote Not-So-Smart,” Aug. 24-30], a pitiful number of candidates even responded to the NPAT, with a mere 38 percent of Congressional candidates, 16 percent of legislative candidates and neither gubernatorial candidates answering the test. You can see who responded and their answers by visiting the PVS website.
A couple weeks ago, PVS launched a new program that tracks the voting records of state legislators in New Mexico (a service that was previously unavailable for these officials). Since we don’t give descriptions or endorsements of state legislative candidates in our election guide, this service is particularly useful to check if your legislator’s positions match your own.
You can find the legislative voting records (called “Key Votes” on the website) by visiting PVS’ front page. Click on “New Mexico” and then pick an issue, enter a bill number or search by a keyword to see how different legislators voted on a bill. Alternately, you can look up legislators by browsing New Mexico’s “State Officials” to see their individual voting record.
PVS’ website is easy to use, comprehensive, and an invaluable service to voters, especially those who may have a hard time choosing between candidates. It makes election season much more tolerable.