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Breaking Your News Bubble

This guide offers methods and resources to critically evaluate the news you consume.

Library Research Guide

Elections and Voting

Getting ready to cast your vote?

This guide provides basic information about elections and researching candidates and issues:

2021 Election Deadlines

Mark your calendars for key dates in October and November!

NOTE: While we provide dates below, always, always double check with your state's voting authority (usually the Secretary of State) or your local voting authority (in Kansas, your county election office).

National:

Next presidential election year -- 2024

Kansas:

July 13 - Deadline to register to vote for primary election
July 14 - First day advance by mail ballots are mailed and advance in-person voting may begin
July 27 - Deadline for voters to apply for advance mail ballot
August 2 (12:00 p.m.) -- Deadline for advance in-person voting
August 3 - PRIMARY ELECTION (if needed)

October 12 - Last day to register for the general election
October 13 - Advance voting in-person or by mail begins
October 26 - Last day to apply for advance ballots by mail
November 2 - General election
 

Preview Your Ballot

Learn which candidates and issues will appear on your ballot.

Find My Ballot

You can learn prior to voting what candidates and issues will appear on your ballot. Use this information to start your research process.

Many sites ask for your home address because the candidates and issues on your ballot depend upon where you live.

These websites are NOT your ballot and you are NOT casting your vote on these sites.

Research Candidates and Issues

Candidate Backgrounds and Positions

Researching a candidate can vary from information overload (U.S. President) to scrounging for any scrap of information (some local elections.) Try these options to learn more about candidate backgrounds and positions

1. Begin your research on the same websites that allow you to preview your ballot.* Look for the biographies, answers to surveys, position statements on issues, and who endorses them.

*The ballot preview from your state or local voting authority will only show the ballot.

2. Search for candidates websites or social media sites. Not all candidates create websites or social media accounts. Not all websites/social media are created by/associated with the campaign. Look for an "About" or "Paid for By" section to learn who created the account.

3. Find interviews, investigations, and reports in news outlets. Explore multiple news outlets. Even if you are in a small community, it is possible that the the local newspaper and local radio station will provide different information or perspectives.

If you do not subscribe to a newspaper, visit your local library's website to learn what you can access with a library card.

Some newspapers allow visitors to view a certain number of free articles per visit/day/month.

4. Watch/attend local candidate forums that might be sponsored by a local news outlet or local organizations, such as the League of Women Voters. These may be announced

  • in local news outlets
  • on social media

Looking for recent forums that you missed this election year? They may have been posted on a candidate's social media - don't find it on one candidate's social media? Try another's. Or try someone running for another local office. They may be grouped together in one forum.

Newspapers

Manhattan/Riley County Candidate Forums

Candidate Voting Records

A candidate who has already served in office will have a voting record, which can help you untangle what they say they do, what other people say they do, and what they actually do.

Congress and the state legislatures are the best source for candidates who have served nationally or at the state level. Other sites listed below also compile voting records, but they may not be comprehensive.

As the office becomes more local, your ability to access this information can become more time consuming as you may have to read meeting minutes (if posted), visit local offices, and read local news sources.

State or Local Issues

If there is a state or local issue on your ballot, such as a tax levy or bond, the local agency proposing the issue will likely provide information on their website. Investigating the pros and cons will require more time as you may have to locate local news sources or websites with opposing viewpoints.

Judges

Find out how Campaigns are Funded

Campaign Finance

Federal and state campaign finance laws require that resources donated and spent on elections be reported. 

While you cannot always uncover exactly who donated and spent what, you can still learn a lot about who is spending what on elections.

Try searching by:

  • candidate name
  • donor name
  • organizations that fund commercials, flyers, and other advertising