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How To Pick A Candidate


This guide is designed to help you decide which candidate to vote for.

Step 1:  Decide what you are looking for in a candidate.

You want to pick a candidate that you agree with on the issues and that you feel would be a good person for the job. Both are important. Your first step in picking a candidate is to decide what you care about and what character your want in a leader.

Create a Candidate Report Card listing your priority issues and the qualities you think are most important in an elected official.  Rate the candidates on how closely their views match yours and on their leadership abilities.

Issues X Y Z
Social Security & Medicare      
Campaign Finance      
Leadership Qualities      
Leadership Abilities      
Honesty &Integrity      
Step 2: Take a good look at campaign information

You get a lot of impressions and still feel that you get very little real information about the candidates and their views on the issues. You hear slogans, you recognize the names of famous candidates, and you can see the personalities of those candidates. But does that help you decide who you like for the job?

Candidates use many tools in campaigning for office, such as political ads, direct mail, web sites, and polls.  Voters need tools as well, to judge candidates on their positions and qualifications. Here are some tools and suggestions:

Step 3:  Learn how others view the candidate.

Poll results are a favorite news story these days. People are asked who they support and sometimes why they support a particular candidate. Polls will tell you who is leading at a certain point in the campaign. Candidates like to know who's leading because it can increase support and contributions from people who want to be on the winning team. Before you believe everything in a poll, ask these questions:

Step 4: Rate the candidates on how they campaign

You can tell a lot about a candidate by the way the campaign is run. We deserve open, honest and campaigns that tell us about what the candidate wants to do. We shouldn't put up with unfair campaigns.

Here are some ideas that help you identify an unfair campaign:

Spot Phony Issues:

Step 5: Examine the candidate's campaign finances.

Where do the candidates get the money to pay for their campaigns?

Many types of information about money given to campaigns must be reported to the government and are watched by the press. Will people who are elected vote to support the people who gave them money? You may hear something like, "We all know Smith is backed by big money interests," or "The union has Jones in its pocket." Every candidate needs support from a wide range of people and groups who may not represent the candidate's views on all the issues.  Judge the candidate's own words and deeds. You can get information about campaign contributions:

Federal Election Commission
Phone: 1-800-424-9530

State Public Disclosure Commission
Phone: 1-360-753-1111
Toll Free: 1-877-601-2828

Step 6: Where can you find the information you need?

You want to make the right decision, but sometimes it's hard to quickly and easily find the information you want.

Step 7: Pick a candidate

Now that you have the tools to make an informed choice... DO SOMETHING!

VOTE for the candidate of your choice.

Download a PDF of How to Pick a Candidate.
From the Brochure “How to Pick a Candidate”, LWVWA and adapted from LWVUS Pick a Candidate and LWVNY How To Pick A Candidate. Revised 2008