Federal Election: How to Be an Informed Voter

The Canadian Federal Election is coming up on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, which means we have some important decisions to make. With multiple options to choose from, what can you do to learn more about the candidates, platforms and issues at hand? This blog will help you learn more about what is important to you this election before the big vote.

Also, check out the Edmonton Public Library election page.

Why it's important to be an informed voter

The reality of 2019 is we all lead busy, distracted and—at times—chaotic lives in the fast-paced, digital world of today. Part of this involves our subjugation to the rapid and ceaseless flood of information-starved, shiny and sometimes fake multimedia messaging designed to manipulate our emotional selves.

Understandably, even the most media savvy citizens around have no choice but to limit their news consumption to mere headlines and soundbites. We form an opinion in little more than an instant, consumed by outrage or awe. We share, like, quote, tweet and move on to the next thing. In doing so, we often skip over the true context of a story enabling us to form a balanced and truly informed opinion.

With all the competing information out there, the simple idea of spending more time to understand even a single subject seems daunting. It is a critical exercise, however, for an informed citizenry, especially at election time. Taking the time to learn about key issues gives you the knowledge you need to make a sound decision and ensure that your vote aligns with your interests and values.
Depending on how you choose to go about it, researching your decision could involve varying levels and manners of engagement:

  • Get out of the house and attend an election-related event
  • Visit a candidate’s website to learn more about their platform as well as their personal, professional and political background
  • Take the time to speak to campaigners at your door
  • Follow candidates on social media
  • Read, watch and listen to reputable news sources
  • Seek out opposing viewpoints to better understand all sides of an argument
  • Be curious, ask questions and explore the issues with others in an open, respectful dialogue
  • Volunteer to help a candidate with their campaign

How to evaluate media using the C.R.A.P. test

Whether dealing with traditional, web-based or social media, the most fundamental piece of advice for evaluating what you see and hear is to consider the source. If you were to ask an experienced librarian or practitioner of information science, they will tell you to employ the C.R.A.P. test—a series of probing questions designed to help one determine the trustworthiness of a source.

Currency

  • How recent is the information?
  • How recently has the website been updated?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?

Reliability

  • What kind of information is included in the resource?
  • Is content of the resource primarily opinion or does it present balanced viewpoints?
  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?

Authority

  • Who is the creator or author?
  • What are their credentials? Can you find any information about the author's background?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor? Are they reputable?
  • What is the publisher's interest (if any) in this information?
  • Are there advertisements on the website? If so, are they cleared marked?

Purpose / Point of View

  • Is this fact or opinion? Does the author list sources or cite references?
  • Is it biased? Does the author seem to be trying to push an agenda or particular side? Is the author or publisher right or left leaning in their political orientation?
  • Is the author trying to sell you something? If so, is it clearly stated?

Reliable News

Newspapers

The Edmonton Public Library provides customers with FREE in-house and remote, digital access to local, national and international newspapers.

EPL offers the PressReader online database, which features full electronic access to current editions of the local Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun newspapers, as well as national newspapers such as the Globe & Mail and the National Post (among many other publications).

Regularly reviewing these reputable news sources will help keep you in the loop and provide reports, insights, opinions and event information relating to the Federal Election leading up to decision day.

Television Newscasts

Edmonton has several major local television news sources, including:

If you are not a television viewer or home Internet subscriber, you can still gain access to local TV news segments and stories by visiting the websites of your preferred broadcasts using the Library’s public computers or accessing our free Wi-Fi.

Radio and Podcasts

If listening to radio broadcasts or podcasts is more your style, you have a few options to choose from:

Live streams of radio broadcasts are available on each station's website.

Candidate Websites and Social Media

Most candidates have websites and social media accounts. A list of candidate names throughout Alberta’s electoral districts can be found on the Daveberta Alberta Politics blog, along with other information relating to the election in recent posts. Conduct a search using your postal code on the Elections Canada website or look up your electoral district on the map of Electoral Districts in Edmonton. Note which candidates are running in your district and then visit each candidate’s website within your district to read up on their platforms, ideals and backgrounds.

Elections Canada has set up an excellent website dedicated to the election with tons of helpful resources:

A very useful resource is the voting records for incumbent MP's. Seeing exactly how each incumbent has voted over the course of their terms can be a great exercise in helping you decide whether a candidate’s actions align with your interests. Member of Parliament voting records can be found on the Elections Canada website.

In the Community

If you would like to be more hands-on, candidates have campaign offices with hours and locations posted to their website. This is a great opportunity to pick up candidate pamphlets and literature (if they missed you going door-to-door) and bounce burning questions off members of the campaign team—or perhaps even the candidate themselves.

If you have already decided to support a particular candidate and would like to donate or get directly involved with their campaign, staff at the headquarters would love to help you get started.

Make Your Vote Count

As you can see, there are many resources at your disposal to help get you past the headlines and off towards a much deeper understanding of the options this fall. This post by no means tries to present an exhaustive list of sources that exist to help you learn more and get involved with the current election, but it is a good place to start.

If you decide to commit 20 minutes each day to check in with one or two of the resources listed above, you will be sufficiently prepared by Election Day to make an informed decision and vote with your interests in mind.

The countdown to Election Day is on—make sure your vote counts on Monday, Oct. 21.


Find more election resources, including how you can support EPL, on our election web page.

Election Resources

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Edmonton Public Library