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Civic Engagement and Voting: Researching Issues & Candidates

This guide shares resources and strategies for learning about socio political issues in order to vote or otherwise participate in civic discourse. It also details local resources for getting involved as well at UNLV and local events.

Candidates, Issues, and Political Parties

Before voting it is important to understand what candidates stand for and what initiatives or issues might be on a ballot. A person might also want to align themselves with a political party that they feel shares the same mission and values that they do. Use the resources on this page to learn how to research candidates and issues as well as learn more about political parties and how they work.

Research Candidates

Knowing which candidates are on your ballet, where candidates stand on issues, and how they have voted on issues in the past is an important part of voting. Use these resources below to help you be a more informed voter. 


Vote411.org- This website allows you to enter your address to see what issues are on your ballet, who is running, compare candidates side-by-side, and see when upcoming elections and registration dates are.

Govtrack.com- This website allows you to find out who your representatives in Congress are and how they voted on specific legislation and what bills they sponsored and more.

Pew Research Center- Pew Research Center, a non-partisan fact tank, has a political party quiz to help you determine what party your views most align with.

Ontheissues.org-  This bipartisan website provides information about where different politicians stand on a variety of issues.

Usa.gov- This website explains how to get in contact with your your federal, state, and local elected officials.

Research Issues

Not just candidates are on ballots, oftentimes ballot measures will also be present. Ballot measures are proposed legislation that voters can approve or reject. Ballot measures may also be known as propositions or questions.


Ballotready.org - This website allows you to type in your address and see who your candidate is and what referendum are going to be on your ballot.

Ballotpedia.org - This website allows users to enter their address to get information on ballot measures, candidates, information about candidates, polling locations, and hours for your location and more. Ballotpedia.org also has information about different political parties. Click here to learn more about different political parties.

FollowTheMoney.org - This website allows users to research passed ballot measures and see how much money was raised in support and opposition of the measure.

Clark County Elections Department - The Clark County Elections Department website has information about the order of questions on your ballot and, if you are registered to vote, view a sample ballot.

Congress.gov - This website lists thirty-two broad policy areas and explains what the primary focus of that policy area is.

Evaluating Information and Avoiding Astroturf Organizations

Consider Political Parties

In the United States people typically align themselves with political parties. Political parties are made up of individuals who organize themselves to win elections, operate the government, and influence public policy.

Currently, there are two major political parties in the United States, Democrats, and Republicans, although there are many smaller political parties in operation.

  • Ballotpedia - provides a list of political parties in the United State 
  • American Democracy Project - provides information on what each party stands for. Choose the party that best aligns with YOUR personal values. As young voters, take the tie to assess what is important to YOU and what you want YOUR community to look like.

Finding Your Political Party

Check out these great resources to help determine what political party your values align most closely with!

  • Pew Research Center - The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world.
  • ISideWith - ISideWith is another great nonpartisan source to check out. ISideWith offers information about current political issues, elections, and candidates. 
  • Accredited Schools Online - Accredited Schools Online has put out an amazing first-time voter guide that includes information about voter demographics, voting facts versus myths, and a great political affiliation quiz. 
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