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Election 2020 Information & Media Literacy

Election Day 2020 is fast approaching and voting is already underway across the country, with early voting and absentee/mail in voting proving especially popular in this pandemic year. If you’ve yet to cast your vote, or haven’t yet registered to vote, this post will provide critical information about the process and tips to help you make decisions if you’re not yet committed.

Voting/Registration Information

The deadline for the library registering folks to vote for this election has passed, but you can still register elsewhere. Online registration is still available for 2 more days, with an October 18 deadline. Begin the process here.

Grace Period voting allows you to register to vote at a polling place if you cast your vote at the time of registration. This is available through Election Day (November 3) in Kane County. Through November 2, this applies at all Early Voting polling locations. On Election Day, November 3, Grace Period registration can only happen at the Kane County Elections main office and Aurora satellite.

If you’re not completely sure if you’re registered to vote at your current address, check your status here.

With early voting underway, take a look here to see which locations are available at what times prior to November 3.

If you plan on voting on Election Day, find your polling place here.

Track your mail in ballot here.

General information for our county can be found on the Kane County Clerk Office.

 

Candidates/Ballot Research

Now that the technical bits are out of the way, the most complicated part is often determining for whom who you want to vote and which way you want to vote on various propositions. While you might know exactly how you feel when it comes to the top of the ticket (President/Vice President), down ballot voting often doesn’t get as much coverage even though it has the potential to affect everyday life for citizens. 

If you’re interested in seeing a sample ballot for Kane County, request one here.

BallotReady is a site featuring information about candidates for each race, often linking directly to a candidate's own words on a given subject. 

USA Facts allows you to explore information on federal, state, and district candidates. 

Various sites offer quizzes that can help "match" you with a Presidential candidate. They ask your viewpoint on a number of topics, and then give you a general snapshot of which candidate's public stances align with your answers and to what degree. I Side With and ProCon by Encyclodpaedia Britannica are two populare sites. Both also have information on controversial or hotly debated issues with areas to learn more before you answer. ProCon is a more scholarly exploration, with detailed arguments for and against every issue. I Side With gives links to outside news articles discussing the topics, and also allows you to indicate how important an issue is to you on a sliding scale after you agree or disagree with it. Neither site is affiliated with any party/candidate.

I personally have to do research about judges before every election because I almost never know anything about the names appearing on my ballot. Here are a few non-partisan sources for learning about judges’ sentencing patterns, past controversies, whether they worked as a state prosecutor, a public defender, and all kinds of other information that you can use to put together a picture of their career.

 

Media Literacy

We all know how rampant misinformation is these days, on television, on the internet (particularly social media), and everywhere else information is consumed. The plethora of reasons for this are beyond the scope of this post, but we can go over some tips to help you determine how to verify the authenticity of a claim. Media literacy is, very simply, the skills to identify different forms of media and know how to access, critically evaluate, and analyze the content and information provided. 

The Center for Media Literacy provides a free toolkit on education in this important topic. They list 5 key questions you should ask yourself when encountering content to help determine its authenticity.

  1. Who created this message? (Who's the author? Who funded it? What is their agenda? How many people were involved in creating this and in what capacity?)
  2. Which techniques are used to attract my attention? (How is the story told? Are there visual symbols or metaphors? Are my emotions being appealed to or manipulated?)
  3. How might different people understand this message differently than me? (What about your background contributes to your interpretation? Who is the target audience and what does that in itself say?)
  4. What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message? (What type of person is the viewer/reader/listener encouraged to identify with? Consider the omitted voices and how that changes the content.)
  5. Why was this message sent? (Is it to entertain, inform, or persuade? Does the message creator stand to gain power, money, or influence? Who is the message being sent to and for what purpose?)

A few non-partisan sources that check the veracity of claims in the media: 

  • Snopes.com
  • Politifact.com
  • Punditfact (a special subsection of Politifact dedicated to checking the accuracy of claims by pundits, columnists, bloggers, political analysts, hosts and guests of talk shows, and other members of the media)
  • FactCheck.org