How to get informed before the elections
If you're unsure who to vote for in the European and local elections, here are some tips for finding out more about the candidates.
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact email@example.com.
It is easy to think that by voting you doing your part, even if you don't really know who or what you're are voting for. But in my opinion, this is not the truth. Voting is hugely important but knowing what or who you are voting is more important because what you vote on now will either have a positive or negative impact on you and/or generations to come.
On the 24th of May, we are being asked to decide:
- Who we want to represent us in the European Parliament
- Who do we want to represent us on a local level
- Whether to give the Oireachtas the power to decide on the time couples need to be apart before they can get divorced and how we recognise foreign divorces
- (Depending on where you live) should we have directly elected mayors
Here are some steps we can all take to become a more informed voters:
Research the candidates
Look up information about the candidates from a variety of new sources. Social media is a valuable tool in becoming an informed voter but do be wary of fake news. RTE, This Time I’m Voting, What Europe Does for Me and Refcom.ie all have a mountain of unbiased, factual information. RTE also has a list of every local election candidate in the country and have profiles of all the European election candidates.
Also check out candidates social media pages. Most candidates will have their manifestos on their social media pages, which will give you a good indication of the candidate’s goals and ideologies. Google searching candidates is also a great resource for both local and European election candidates. A quick Google search will bring up any old newspaper articles, youtube clips and the candidates social media pages.
Vote on facts and track records (in or out of politics). Take the time to research the candidates rather than following your gut.
You may be sick of candidates or their volunteers knocking on our doors, but this is a great opportunity to ask candidates face to face questions and they will give you a lot more information than their leaflets. You will be able to see their initial reaction and ask follow up questions if you’re not happy with their responses. It’s also an opportunity to let them know if you agree or disagree with their stance.
It can be scary and intimidating to question a candidate but you just have to remember that’s why they are knocking on your door. They want to learn more about the community and the issues that come with it.
Some questions to ask a candidate:
- Why did you get involved in politics?
- What do you think we need to do to tackle climate change?
- Why did you choose the party you’re a member of? Or why are you running as an independent?
- What areas did you feel you failed to deliver on in the past and why?
- What is your background outside of politics
- What do you think is the main problems contributing to the housing crisis?
- What do you plan to do about X if you’re elected?
If you miss a candidate at your door, you can always contact them by email or by giving them a call. Email addresses and contact numbers are usually available on the candidates social media pages, on their leaflets or their websites.
You can listen to podcasts anywhere, on your morning commute, cooking dinner, even as background noise while studying. Here are a few podcasts to get you ready for the upcoming elections and referendum: The Floating Voter, Their Irish Passport and Inside Politics.
Decide who represents your views
Vote for what you believe in, not what your family or friends believe in. We all have a cause or something we’re passionate about. Find the candidate who will represent that cause. On election day everyone’s vote is equal and anonymous. Your vote is private to you and you will never have to answer to on what or who you voted for. Just remember for the European and local elections, who ever we elect will be representing you for five years and an election can be won by one single vote. If you don’t vote for your own interests, who will? Think before you tick on May 24th.