The trees are just putting on their fall colors, yet the politicians are readying
a blizzard of mailings and television ads in preparation for election day. As
election advertising intensifies, the amount of useful information decreases.
Fortunately, the Web is a great place to get your electoral bearings. For the
lowdown on what your legislators actually do on your behalf, click on the sites
offered by nonprofit watchdogs.
Project Vote Smart (www.vote-smart.org), which bills itself as "a voter's self-defense system," is the best one-stop political information resource on the Web. Vote Smart is scrupulously
nonpartisan. The site tracks the positions, voting records, and campaign finances
of some 13,000 state and national officials.
The League of Conservation Voters (www.lcv.org) provides a comprehensive look at the environmental records of members of Congress, grading each legislator on key votes. The site also has a "Dirty Dozen" list of enviro-villains, an
"EarthList" of green heroes, and the organization's election endorsements.
California and New York LCV chapters have their own sites, www.ecovote.org and
The Sierra Club's extensive political Web pages include state-by-state lists of
federal candidates endorsed by the Club (www.sierraclub.org/politics). Many chapter Web
sites also provide state and even local campaign information and endorsements. A clickable map of Club chapters is available at
From the Green Party (www.greens.org) to
the Democrats (www.democrats.org) and
the Republicans (www.rnc.org), every political
party has a Web forum or two. Party sites aren't objective, of course, but you'll find more background material than you thought possible in this age of campaign-by-TV.
If you're looking for
less agenda-driven information, check out the coverage at the sites of three
D.C.-based political journals: Roll Call (www.rollcall.com) and The Hill (www.hillnews.com).
Since you can't win if you don't play, there's even a site for registering new
voters (www.rockthevote.org). Fill out
its online form, and you'll be mailed a voter-registration card with prepaid postage. The site even has an electronic "postcard" to send to your unregistered friends.
Election time can often be confusing, irritating, and disillusioning. Tap into
the resources on the Web, though, and you just might also find voting
enlighteningan adjective rarely associated with political campaigns.