Local Election Information Sources

Many of you may have already made you choice in the McCain v. Obama (v. Nader v. McKinney v. Barr v. Baldwin v. Duncan v. Moore). However, have you made your choice in McKinley v. Moyer v. Wolpert, Russo v. O’Connor, Sikora v. Stratton, Leonard v. McCloud, or Gorniak v. Lewis? Who are these people? They are all candidates for state and local office that will appear on the ballot on Nov. 4. To find out what offices they are seeking or defending, look at the Franklin County Candidate List or your sample ballot.

Update (Oct. 17): The Ohio News Network has video of the Congressional and Ohio Attorney General debates.

The League of Women Votes has a very useful Voter Information Bulletin. The Franklin County Consortium for Good Government is hosting a series of Meet the Candidate Forums. Another good source of general non-partisan information is Project Vote Smart. More local information can be found in Dispatch Politics, which includes the endorsements by the Dispatch editorial board. Since I am a scientist, I am influenced by the candidate’s answers to the Scientists & Engineers for America Congressional Questions. A useful tool for understanding who may be influencing candidates with their campaign contributions is Follow The Money.

For candidates who are or were part of the Ohio State legislature, you can access their votes for the current session by going to the current (2007-2008) session website, finding the relevant bill, and clicking “votes” in the left-hand column. For past votes (2003-2006 House, 2005-2006 Senate), find the bill in the search engine. When you find the bill, click “Status Report of Legislation” in the left-hand column. This will give you the dates of votes on this bill. Then look at the Legislative Journal for that date to see how the legislators voted.

Voter guides with explicit viewpoints and agendas are available.

For judicial candidates, gathering useful information is particularly difficult. They are represented in some of the vote guides above. Some judicial candidates have held other elective offices, and their records in those could be helpful in choosing how to cast your ballot. For those candidates who are judges or justices already, their records on the bench may be helpful. The Dispatch conducted investigations of 30 cases in which prison inmates had requested DNA testing; it reports the ongoing results on its Test of Convictions site. These investigations already freed one innocent man from prison. You could consider the conduct of the judges in these cases in your voting choices. If you want to get into the details of specific cases, you can find case information for the Franklin County Common Pleas Court and Ohio Supreme & Appeals Court decisions online.

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