Preparing to make your choice on Nov. 6

October 2018

Land Line Staff


As with all midterm elections, this year’s campaigns have become a battleground of positions and claims. By now, you probably want to know how you can impartially research your choices. Fortunately, Land Line has researched multiple websites to provide you with ways to do that.



Ballotpedia describes itself as the online encyclopedia of American politics and elections. It was founded in 2007 and is sponsored by the Lucy Burns Institute, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization in Middleton, Wis.

Its goal is to inform people about politics by providing accurate and objective information about politics at all levels of government. According to its website at, it covers local, state and federal politics and is firmly committed to neutrality. Their content includes accurate, verifiable, neutral info on government officials and the offices they hold.

Also on the site, you can get an early look at what’s on your local ballot. In addition to measures on the ballot, information is available for smaller elected officials like sheriffs, clerks, judges, and school boards.

Vote Smart

Vote Smart is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that collects and distributes information on candidates for public office. It was founded in 1992 and has tools on its website to help you “find your political soulmate” via its “Vote Easy” feature and prepare yourself for big elections like the one coming up Nov. 6.

According to its website,, Vote Smart’s mission is “to provide free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials.” Unlike the 2016 elections, the group no longer charges nonmembers an annual fee to access its massive bank of information.


OpenSecrets is touted as a nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit research source to get a good idea about money’s influence on D.C. lawmakers. The site is run by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The site provides information on which companies and lobbyist groups contribute to which candidates. OpenSecrets also provides details on local contributions. Information is available for who is doing the giving and who is receiving.

OpenSecrets includes a browser extension dubbed Greenhouse. The extension highlights members of Congress on any webpage. A popup provides “total contributions and industry breakdown from the current election cycle.”

Two more helpful resources for getting you through the voting process are and  is a self-described nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. They describe themselves as monitoring the accuracy of what is said by major political players in the form of television ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.

The site is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania., a 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner, is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in U.S. politics. The site researches statements and rates their accuracy on the Truth-O-Meter, from true to false.

PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters at The Poynter Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit school for journalists based in St. Petersburg, Fla., and parent company of the Tampa Bay Times. LL