We need to get more people involved in the voting process and the issues. Here are some links to consider in your pathway to becoming a 1-person team armed and ready for action.
There are so many different sites, try a few out and see what works for you. Commit to remaining involved at whatever level you can contribute. All participation demonstrates that we are indeed here and engaged.
Technically related to voting, but Ballot Ready addresses those referendums as well as the candidates on your ballot. The decision on voting for or against a referendum is just as important as voting for drain commissioner and President. It all matters!
But referendums are often written in secret code and a “yes” vote may end up doing something you would rather not support. Also be aware that voting for judgeships and other lower level positions is yet another critical and yet often overlooked opportunity to shape your community. So know the issue, understand the referendum language and vet the candidate.
Countable offers an extensive list of issues, there over 50 tiles that explore a topic in-depth. With an account you can favorite an issue and return for updates and ongoing list of information. Each of the tiles contains narratives on the issue. Countable presents comments for and against a certain issue; these comments are not necessarily from pundits or experts but other Countable users.
GovTrack is a very useful site in that you can actually follow committees in action as well as members of the Senate or House. What is especially helpful is the “issue” drop-down menu, to the upper right of the home page (somewhat obscured). This menu allows users to focus on issues of concern and see an extensive list of relevant bills and other subcategories. Once in the issue you can search on previous sessions, cosponsors, combined topics and status of bill. Not just for legislative history fans, with an account users can create their own active library of information. Oh, and you can track your representatives as well. Know how they voted, hold them accountable too.
LWVIL focuses on these four areas: Representative Government, International Relations, Natural Resources, and Social Policy. They concentrate on these issues within the context of Illinois’ legislative activity.
Dive into state politics with OpenStates. Track state legislation, think of OpenStates like GovTrack for states. The site offers a means to contact elected officials, find votes on issues of concern, and just simply find state legislative info. Includes Puerto Rico and DC! The site relies on a bunch of data science tools to scrape every single legislative site for bills, votes and contact info. P.S. They just revamped their web pages and they are very clean and oh so easy to use. May be useful for advocacy groups and concerned citizens alike.
Search by legislators, bills, statements and lobbying organizations. Powered by independent journalists, this site offers a simple interface for exploring federal government in action. View recent House and Senate votes and peruse the spiffy visualizations.
Passed to Sunlight Foundation alumni, OpenStates runs on volunteer power primarily and is an independent effort. As an open source project, their data is available to anyone. Chicago Trib, NPR’s StateImpact and a couple of other media sources utilize the data OpenState collects.
Think of OpenState as the state version of GovTrack, also on feaured on this WMC Resource page. There are tutorials as well, always a bonus. Viewers can look search for any state, which comes in handy if you are an advocate for a specific issue.
A non-partisan site that focuses on educating voters on candidates. Provides bios, votes, positions on issues, speeches, funding and votes (incumbents). The Board requires that for anyone that joins, a political opposite must also join. Powered by a volunteer corps numbering in the thousands, the site started in the early 1990’s and continues bring candidate and ballot information to the voters.
Participation Guide (PDF)
One of the more direct ways to participate in Illinois’ legislative process is by submitting witness slips commenting on legislation or committee efforts. This guide is a step-by-step on how to get registered and use your Illinois government account. We often see calls for witness slips on the Women’s March site, and this guide gives you the “how to.” NOTE: The link directly takes viewers to the PDF guide.
Register here to be able to submit witness slips.
Illinois Witness Slips
An advocacy tool that records your efforts and offers many issues to champion. Enter your zip code and 5 Calls brings up with issues. Select an issue and your relevant Senators and Representatives information appears. 5 Calls provides a script and supplies apps for iOS and Android. The app links on located on the home page. Makes those coffee breaks effective micro-campaigns.
The 65 offers a Weekly Call to Action, sometimes that runs for more than one week. Straight-forward advocacy in simple terms. Allows one to take action without getting overwhelmed with multiple actions.
A simple widget to locate your Congress persons. Enter an address for accurate information, retrieve your Representative and two Senators information.
Another take action site that the Democratic National Committee maintains. Several issues posted highlight current concerns. Scroll to the bottom of the home page and in the dark blue section, look to the right under ISSUES. There are 10 or more current topics.
A Women’s Marcher from Chicago started Persist List after last year’s historic march. The site extensively covers events for candidates, issues, and activism all over the Chicagoland area.
Join over 10,000 volunteers who sent more than half a million postcards to voters since March 2017. Great project for a family, small groups, friends, or those who prefer to set their own activity hours. Templates, suggested messages, tracking, and more available at the site.
A grassroots organization concentrating on taking back the House of Representatives in 2018. The website takes a viewer’s district information and identifies whether or not the location is a swing district. If not, then the site identifies the nearest swing district. Volunteers are needed to register people to vote, canvas for district candidates and other GOTV (get out the vote) activities.
This site offers TAKE ACTION cards that focus on issues related to women such as sexual harassment, equal pay and health concerns plus many others. One clicks on a “card” and receives pertinent information and action steps.
Vote With Me (iPhone, Android) app taps into your personal network and allows you to generate content urging people to vote. Who one votes for is not a matter of public record, but whether one voted is. You can urge the reluctant voter to take part. You make the contact, and add another way to take part in this grand experiment know as the USA.