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Become an Educated Voter

October 24, 2010

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“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” ~ President John F. Kennedy 

CANDIDATES and ISSUES  –  View your Congressional candidates at C-SPAN.org (Scroll down to view your state’s race.) (see link to all 50 states’ Election Board websites at the bottom of the page)


SENATORS:

  • Elections to the United States Senate will be held for 36 of the 100 Senate seats.
  • (A special election for a 37th seat was held in Massachusetts on January 19, 2010, for a term that ends in January 2013.  Republican Scott Brown won the seat which had been held by Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy from 1962 until his death in 2009.) 
  • (A special election for a 38th seat to replace Democratic Senator Robert Byrd (West Virginia), who held his seat from 1959 until his death on June 28, 2010 will take place November 2, 2010.  The winner of that election will serve the remaining two years of Sen. Byrd’s term, which ends in January 2013.  Until that time, the governor of WV has appointed Carte Goodwin to fill the vacancy.)
  • The Senate is currently composed of 56 Democrats, 41 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with the Democrats (democratic socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Democrat Joe Lieberman of Connecticut). 
  • Of the seats up for election in 2010, 18 are held by Democrats (6 of whom are retiring) and 18 are held by Republicans (7 of whom are retiring).

REPRESENTATIVES:

  • Elections for United States House of Representatives will be held for all 435 seats, representing the 50 U.S. states.
  • Elections also will be held for the delegates from the District of Columbia and four of the five major U.S. territories.
  • The only seat in the United States House of Representatives not up for election is that of the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, who serves a four-year term and will next face election in 2012.
  • The House is currently composed of 253 Democrats and 178 Republicans.  There are also 4 vacancies.

GOVERNORS:

  • The United States gubernatorial elections will be held in 37 states and two territories (Guam & U.S. Virgin Islands). 
  • Of the 39 elections to be held, 20 seats are currently held by Democratic incumbents and 19 by Republican incumbents.
  • Of the Democratic held governorships up for election in 2010, 8 are held by incumbents who are term-limited, while 4 others are voluntarily choosing not to seek election or re-election. 
  • Of the Republican held governorships up for election in 2010, 8 are held by incumbents who are term-limited, while 4 others are voluntarily choosing not to seek re-election. (Incumbent Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons lost his primary on June 8 to Former Federal Judge Brian Sandoval.)
     

CONSERVATIVE vs. LIBERAL BELIEFS

 
BALLOT MEASURES

 

Anything that appears on a ballot other than a candidate running for office is called a ballot measure.  Ballot measures are broken down into two distinct categories – initiatives (or propositions) and referendums.

  • Initiative – Citizens, collecting signatures on a petition, place advisory questions, memorials, statutes (laws) or constitutional amendments on the ballot for the citizens to adopt or reject.  “Initiative” refers to newly drafted legislation submitted directly to a popular vote as an alternative to adoption by a state legislature.  Twenty-four states have the initiative process. 
  • Referendum – In many of the same states the citizens have the referendum process – the ability to reject laws or amendments proposed or already passed by the state legislature.  

The terms above are all forms of “direct democracy” practiced by various states.  In a direct democracy, all citizens, without the intermediary of elected or appointed officials, can participate in making public decisions.  Ballot measures are a form of direct democracy practiced by many states in the U.S.

Read more about ballot measures (initiatives and referendums) at the Initiative and Referendum website iandrinstitute.org.

View a map of state ballot measures at iandrinstitute.org/statewide_i%26r.htm

Does your state practice direct democracy through the ballot measure process?  If so, what initiatives or referendums are on the ballot in the upcoming election?
PARTY PLATFORMS

The National Platform is an official statement of a political party’s position on a wide variety of issues. Each issue category included in the Platform is a “plank.” A new Platform is adopted every four years by both the Democratic and Republican parties.

CLICK ON YOUR STATE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF ELECTIONS WEBSITE:  (What type of information would you like to see at your state’s elections page?  Send an email to your Secretary of State with your suggestion.  Identify yourself with your name, school and city.  Be clear, concise and polite.)

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Washington D.C. – NOTE: Voting rights of citizens in the District of Columbia differ from those of United States citizens in each of the fifty states. District of Columbia residents do not have voting representation in the United States Senate, but D.C. is entitled to three electoral votes for President. In the U.S. House of Representatives, the District is entitled to a delegate, who is not allowed to vote on the floor of the House, but can vote on procedural matters and in House committees. (from wikipedia)
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

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