Guest Commentary

Pat Goodwin: One-stop shopping for all your election information

VOTE411.org is your one-stop shop for information about your own specific election.
VOTE411.org is your one-stop shop for information about your own specific election.

True confession: I have gone to the polls and discovered races I did not know were going to be on the ballot. Candidates I’d never heard of. And the judges. Oh, my … the judges. And I’ve tried, really I have, to do better and get prepared. But then there’s a water district question coming out of left field. Being an informed voter isn’t easy.

But there’s some good news. Registered voters in Kansas City as well as Jackson, Clay, Cass and Platte counties have a new tool to learn about the candidates and questions on ballots, starting with the April 4 election. On March 15, the League of Women Voters of Kansas City/Jackson/Clay/Platte Counties launched VOTE411.org, a one-stop shop for nonpartisan election information. For voters who don’t want to be surprised by an important race that flew under the radar or for those who simply want to be a little better informed when they walk into the booth April 4, VOTE411.org is worth a look.

To use the site, go to VOTE411.org. Type in your address and click the green “Enter” button. Then click on the “Get personalized information on candidates and issues” button.

Seriously, that’s it. Every race that will appear on your ballot will be listed — but only those races. If you live in Gladstone, you won’t see the city council race from North Kansas City. If you live in Independence, races from Raytown will not show up.

Don’t stop there, though. This is where it gets interesting.

Now you can select each race, see the ballot language or compare candidates side by side, some of whom have provided information to VOTE411.org. As you make your choice on each race, VOTE411.org takes you to the next one. When you make your final choice, click the “Finish” button, and your ballot is displayed with your choices.

At this point, you can print your ballot, email it to yourself or send it to your smartphone. If you like, you can share your ballot with family and friends using email, Facebook or Twitter. But when you leave VOTE411.org, the choices you made are not saved. Like your ballot, VOTE411.org is private.

VOTE411.org provides much more than just election-specific information. For example, you can:

▪ Check your voter registration.

▪ Learn about voting requirements, like how to register and what kind of identification to bring on Election Day.

▪ Find out how to vote absentee.

▪ Locate your polling place.

▪ Get a list of upcoming events, like debates and forums.

VOTE411.org does a lot, but it doesn’t take the place of going to the polls on Election Day or casting an absentee ballot.

The League of Women Voters, an organization comprised of both men and women, has worked to support active and informed voters in Kansas City and surrounding areas for almost a century. When we vote, we all want to make the best choices we can because election results affect us, our families and our community. Often it’s hard to gather all the information needed to make an informed decision on an issue or race.

The League of Women Voters is hopeful that VOTE411.org will help voters access and consider the information we all need to prepare for Election Day. Take a look at VOTE411.org. Give it a try. Then be sure to go to your polling location April 4 and cast your ballot, secure in the knowledge that you’re informed and prepared.

Pat Goodwin is a retired teacher and serves on the board of the League of Women Voters of Kansas City/Jackson/Clay/Platte Counties.

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