Luckily, if you’re voting on Election Day, it’s still not too late to research your ballot. Here are some techy ways to help you prep for your time in the figurative, or literal, booth.
VotePlz: If you want some basic information about voting, try VotePlz. The app’s main purpose was to help people register to vote. Although those deadlines have passed, it’s still a valuable resource for some basic information about how to vote.
VotePlz lets you know where you can vote, what you may need to bring with you to your polling place, such as your ID or a utility bill if necessary, as well as information on voting laws.
Facebook: If you need a little more information on whom you’re choosing once you’re in the voting booth, you can take a look at Facebook. The social network has partnered with the Center for Technology and Civic Life to gather information about what your local ballot will look like, as well as where your polling place is. Your ballot decisions are private, but you can share the tool with others.
Facebook has promised that it will not store your address or connect it to your profile; the purpose of asking is solely to get you the most accurate ballot. Once you have made your choices on Facebook, you can email them to yourself to print off and take with you into the voting booth — just in case you’re not allowed to have your smartphone out when you vote.
Know that if you don’t provide your address, you may not get as detailed a ballot. Even if you do, there still may be some races that it does not cover. (In my case, for example, there were some soil and water conservation candidates I didn’t know about on my early-voting ballot.) But, overall, it does a pretty good job of giving you basic information.
Brigade: If you want even more information on candidates’ positions, try Brigade. This social network has a broader aim of getting people more involved in the civic process and has been working throughout the election cycle to raise awareness about the importance of voting. Users have been able to pledge their votes for certain candidates, and then invite others to do the same — often sharing their own reasons for picking a particular candidate in the process.
As of late October, Brigade had logged 100,000 vote pledges from users who authenticated their voter registration, and its users had invited almost 1 million others to vote.
If you’re really puzzled about which candidates share the most in common with your views, Brigade lets you take a quiz — 100 statements on about 20 core policy issues — that can get a handle on your political views. It then makes recommendations based on the opinions of pledged voters supporting that candidate. The statements have been vetted for neutrality by two polling and research firms, one liberal and one conservative.
Once you’ve completed that quiz, Brigade will also show you your ballot, along with the recommendations of which politicians’ supporters most closely share your values.
As with Facebook's tool, the Brigade ballot can miss some smaller local races, particularly if you are not in a major city. But its alignment information can be particularly helpful with some of the more confusingly worded propositions that show up on ballots, since it shows you how others with values similar to yours see the issue as a group.