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Sierra Magazine
Natural Resources

Books | Video | Web

World on the Web: Election-season savvy

by Sierra Club Webmaster John Kealy

The trees are just putting on their fall colors, yet the politicians are readying a blizzard of mailings and television ads in preparation for election day. As election advertising intensifies, the amount of useful information decreases. Fortunately, the Web is a great place to get your electoral bearings. For the lowdown on what your legislators actually do on your behalf, click on the sites offered by nonprofit watchdogs.

Project Vote Smart (www.vote-smart.org), which bills itself as "a voter's self-defense system," is the best one-stop political information resource on the Web. Vote Smart is scrupulously nonpartisan. The site tracks the positions, voting records, and campaign finances of some 13,000 state and national officials.

The League of Conservation Voters (www.lcv.org) provides a comprehensive look at the environmental records of members of Congress, grading each legislator on key votes. The site also has a "Dirty Dozen" list of enviro-villains, an "EarthList" of green heroes, and the organization's election endorsements. California and New York LCV chapters have their own sites, www.ecovote.org and www.nylcv.org, respectively.

The Sierra Club's extensive political Web pages include state-by-state lists of federal candidates endorsed by the Club (www.sierraclub.org/politics). Many chapter Web sites also provide state and even local campaign information and endorsements. A clickable map of Club chapters is available at www.sierraclub.org/chapters.

From the Green Party (www.greens.org) to the Democrats (www.democrats.org) and the Republicans (www.rnc.org), every political party has a Web forum or two. Party sites aren't objective, of course, but you'll find more background material than you thought possible in this age of campaign-by-TV.

If you're looking for less agenda-driven information, check out the coverage at the sites of three D.C.-based political journals: Roll Call (www.rollcall.com) and The Hill (www.hillnews.com).

Since you can't win if you don't play, there's even a site for registering new voters (www.rockthevote.org). Fill out its online form, and you'll be mailed a voter-registration card with prepaid postage. The site even has an electronic "postcard" to send to your unregistered friends.

Election time can often be confusing, irritating, and disillusioning. Tap into the resources on the Web, though, and you just might also find voting enlightening—an adjective rarely associated with political campaigns.

(C) 2000 Sierra Club. Reproduction of this article is not permitted without permission. Contact sierra.magazine@sierraclub.org for more information.


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