Election season in the U.S. is dragging along. I feel like we’re always in a perpetual election cycle. All the news channels have that incessant election countdown box: 20 days, 19 days, 18 days…
Make it stop!
This year, staff at the library where I work at have been trained by the city clerk’s office to register voters. This has been an amazing civic experience. I work with college students; many are first-time voters.
There’s something different about this election year (understatement, much?).
We have registered so many more voters this time around. As soon as I would sit back down at my desk, a student worker would come and get me to register a new voter. Not a complaint, by the way! We ended up setting up a registration table in our lobby for the first time…one new voter after another!
One potential voter walked by and said:
I don’t know who to vote for. I don’t like politics. Who are you voting for?
My first reaction:
Really, I thought:
How could you not know? Based on the issues that are important to you, isn’t there a candidate that interests you?
But not everyone is tied into all the issues. And politics can be a downright turnoff for most people.
The first thing I did, was keep my mouth shut (as hard as it might be!). I’m not telling people on the job who I’m voting for. Politics, like religion, is your own personal business.
I just told the person:
I’m not going to share my personal political opinion because in this situation I’m not here to advocate. I’m here to simply provide information.
I provided the person with a link to our Election/Voting libguide:
Then I directed the person to a few sites that might help them figure things out:
- Pew Research Center’s Political Ideology Quiz – figure out where you fall on the political spectrum
- The Washington Post Voter Guide – see which candidate aligns most closely with your views
- ProCon.org 2016 Presidential Election Candidate Quiz – answer 75 questions to see how you match to Clinton, Johnson, Stein, and Trump
- Project Vote Smart’s VoteEasy – browse 13 broad issues (e.g., abortion, education, guns, health care) to see where the candidates stand
- Watch the debates: We have them embedded on our libguide: http://pioguides.carrollu.edu/voting/debates
As much as I would like to bring voters over to my side, that’s not part of my job in this scenario. I can, however, give them the tools to make an educated decision.
Young voters, in particular, get derided for lack of knowledge. I’m guilty of thinking like that too. But throughout our voter registration drive I’ve seen many interested and engaged young people. It makes me feel better the future.
And I need something to feel good about in this election.