Iowans with Disabilities in Action

Getting the Facts

A six-step guide to getting the facts about where the candidates stand on the issues

As each election season rolls around, you probably find yourself wondering where the candidates stand on the issues. This information offers some basic suggestions about:

  • How to find out who is running for office.
  • What elections happen each year and when they take place.
  • How to find out where candidates stand on the issues you care about.

You can use the information to create your own “action plan” for becoming a well-informed voter.

STEP 1

Anyone who wants to be a candidate for any local, state or national office has to file nomination papers with certain officials. You can get a list of candidates from these officials.

  • To learn who is running for school board, contact the secretary at your local school.
  • The city officials that are elected will vary from city to city. Elected city officials may include the mayor, city manager, city council members or town board members. To learn who is running for city office, contact your city clerk. You can find the phone number in the “City Government” section of your phone book or on your city’s website or Facebook page.
  • Candidates for county office or partisan township office register with the county auditor. The phone number for the county auditor is listed in the “County Government” section of your phone book and on your county’s website. 
  • The secretary of state can tell you who is running for state or national office. You can visit the web site: www.sos.iowa.gov or call: 1-888-SOS-VOTE.

STEP 2

Know what elections take place each year and when they’re held

Elections in Iowa happen on a set schedule. Knowing this schedule will help you plan ahead to get the facts before you vote.

Election

Month & Year

Function

Primary Elections

June

Even-numbered years (2014, 2016, etc.)

Political parties choose candidates for national, state and county offices

General Elections

November

Even-numbered years

Elect national,
state and county officeholders

City Elections

November

Odd-numbered years

Elect city officials

School Board Elections

Effective in 2009, school elections will be held on the odd-numbered years

 

Elect school board members

 

STEP 3

Find out where a candidate stands on the issues

The best way to get information is to go after it. Stay up to date by talking to candidates in person or on the phone. Most candidates, especially at the state and local level, will be glad to discuss the issues with you.

Be prepared

Before you talk to the candidate:

  • Gather all the facts about the issue.
  • Write down the questions you want to ask.
  • Give as well as take—have information to share, as well as questions to ask. Have your information written down, so that you can give a copy to the candidate for future use.
  • Keep in touch—follow up with a letter. Summarize the conversation from your point of view. Thank the candidate for talking with you.

You can also get information on political issues by joining an advocacy group that shares your interests. For information on advocacy groups in your area, call or visit:

                ID Action

                1-866-432-2846

                www.idaction.org

STEP 4

Tap a great resource: the media

Another good source of information is the media—television, radio, social media, and your local papers. Read. Listen. Jot down notes and quotes. If you have questions, contact the candidate or the party headquarters and ask for clarification.

STEP 5

Contact the candidate’s political party headquarters

The candidate’s party headquarters or campaign committee can also provide information. Call or write to get the facts about:

  • the party platform
  • specific issues, and
  • the voting records of candidates running for re-election.

You can get the name of your county’s party chairpersons from your county auditor. You can also contact the party’s state headquarters

Iowa Democratic Party                       

5661 Fleur Drive

Des Moines, IA 50231 

515-244-7292

www.iowademocrats.org

 

Republican Party of Iowa           

621 East Ninth Street

Des Moines, IA 50309

515-282-8105

www.iowagop.org

 

STEP 6

Participate in the process

Talking with the candidates about where they stand is one way to participate in our democracy. Another is to get involved in local politics.

Ask your party’s county chairperson how you can help with local party activities. In January or February of even-numbered years, attend your party’s precinct or township caucuses—these are announced in your local newspaper. Campaign to be selected as one of your party’s delegates to your county, regional, state or national convention. You may even consider becoming a candidate yourself!

And most important, VOTE!

 

To learn more

For more information about how to get the facts about wherethe candidates stand on the issues, contact:

ID Action

P.O. Box 737

Des Moines, IA 50303

contactus@idaction.org

1-866-432-2846

 www.idaction.org

For information about voter rights, contact:

Office of the Secretary of State                                

First Floor, Lucas Building

321 E. 12th St.

Des Moines, IA 50319

515-SOS VOTE

 www.sos.iowa.gov 

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