How to Navigate the 2010 Midterm Elections

Election Day is November 2. Do you know where your ballot box is? Because we love helping people exercise their right to participate in democracy, we thought we’d compile a short list of some resources to help you get your vote on in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

“Where do I vote?” It’s our most frequently asked question around the library on Election Day – well that and “Where’s the bathroom?” and of course, the perennial, “Do you have S*** My Dad Says?” but we digress. (Answers: “Over there,” and “Yes.”)

There are numerous ways to find your local polling place. You can look up your voting information online at the Missouri Voting Rights Center, or if you live across the state line, hit the Kansas Secretary of State’s site. KCMO residents can check their registration status, view their list of elected officials, and download a complete sample ballot (PDF) at the KC Board of Election Commissioners site. Those outside of KCMO can search county Board of Elections offices: Clay, Platte, Jackson, Cass on the Missouri side; Johnson, Wyandotte in Kansas.

None of this will do you any good, however, if your voter registration is not current as of October 6 (Missouri) or October 18 (Kansas). In which case, there'll be no “I Voted” sticker for you this time around.

Interesting fact #1: The Missouri Secretary of State’s office estimates that 51 percent of the state’s 4,137,545 registered voters will cast ballots on Tuesday. Does that number seem high or low? Discuss.

Need to brush up on who’s running? The Kansas City Star’s Midwest Democracy Project site is loaded with info about many aspects of the election, including a comprehensive candidate search, online polls about issues of interest in this election, and facts about how our politicians have voted while in office. And if you know your candidates inside and out – right down to what kind of pie they prefer – you can take the quiz of candidate quirks.

Other resources: On the Issues gives nonpartisan information about “Every Political Leader on Every Issue.” Vote411 also boasts impartiality and has an online voters’ guide to help you build a ballot based on issues. “The Voter’s Self-Defense System,” Vote Smart has a snappy interactive app to help you find candidates who share your views.

Interesting fact #2: Though the phrase “vote early and vote often” is associated with corrupt, early-mid-20th-century political bosses such as Chicago’s Richard Daley and Kansas City’s Tom Pendergast, the old voting fraud joke is likely older. According to Safire’s Political Dictionary by William Safire, the phrase originated in 1848.

Now that you know where to vote and have access to some information that will help you make an informed decision, why not take a minute to participate in this informal (and totally non-serious) poll?

-- Jason Harper