Edmonton Election: How to Be an Informed Voter

The Edmonton Municipal Election is coming up on October 16, 2017 and that means we have some important decisions to make. With many options to choose from, what can you do to learn more about the candidates, platforms and issues at hand? This post seeks to provide some tips to help you get in the know before the big vote. For more useful info, check out the Edmonton Public Library's election page

Why it’s Important to be an Informed Voter

Let’s face it; we all lead busy, hectic and—at times—chaotic lives in today’s fast-paced, digital world. There’s a rapid and ceaseless flood of information-starved, shiny and sometimes fake multimedia messaging designed to play with our emotions. With all of that, even the best of us can be guilty of limiting our news consumption to 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.

Sometimes, even the idea of spending more time to better understand a single subject seems daunting. But it can be critical, 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 for a couple hours to attend an event
  • Volunteer to help a candidate with their campaign
  • 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

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 I could impart for evaluating what you see and hear is to consider the source. If you were to ask an experienced reference librarian, they would likely 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 Resources for Edmonton News

Edmonton Newspapers

The Edmonton Public Library provides customers with FREE in-house and remote, digital access to local newspapers. EPL offers the PressReader online database, which features full electronic access to current editions of the Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun and Edmonton Metro newspapers (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 Edmonton Election leading up to decision day.

Edmonton Television Newscasts

Edmonton has several major local television news sources, including:

If you are not a television 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.

Edmonton Radio and Podcasts

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

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

Edmonton Websites and Social Media

Most candidates have websites and social media accounts. A list of candidates—complete with links to websites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and more—can be found on the Daveberta Alberta Politics blog, along with lots of other information relating to Edmonton’s civic election. Either check Edmonton ward maps or enter your address to determine your ward, then visit each candidate’s website to read up on their platforms, ideals and backgrounds.

The City of Edmonton has set up an excellent webpage dedicated to the election with tons of helpful resources:

Another useful resource to consult would be the voting records for incumbent city councillors and trustees. 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. City Council voting records can be found on the City's website. Edmonton Public School Board meeting minutes, which include a record of how each school board trustees voted, can be found on the public school board's website. The same resource for Edmonton Catholic School Board can be found on the Catholic school board's website.

EPL’s website offers a fun way to get to know the candidates. We sent out a brief, light-hearted survey asking questions about libraries to all of the candidates running in the 2017 Edmonton Municipal Election. Read their responses on our Get to Know Your Candidates page. You can also find our landing page for all things relating to the election—including how you can support EPL—on our election webpage.

Events in the Community

If you like getting out and doing things or if you prefer in-person events and interactions, there are some options for you: candidate forums.

There’s a mayoral candidate forum on Wednesday, October 11 at the Italian Cultural Centre, 14230-133 Avenue NW. This is a great opportunity to hear from the candidates running for mayor and ask them questions. It runs from 7 to 9 p.m.

The City of Edmonton’s website contains an archive of all of the previous mayoral and councillor candidate forums from 2017. Watch any forum online for free.

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

If you have already decided that you would like to support a particular candidate and would like to donate or get directly involved with the campaign, I am sure the 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’s a good place to start.

If you decide to commit 20 to 30 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.

Learn How You Can Support EPL in the Election

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