2020 is a big year.
The U.S. presidential election, held on November 3, will be a defining moment—Democrats will have the chance to unseat President Trump in the Oval Office. With more than 20 Democratic hopefuls, there is a lot of information to sift through about the candidates and their positions on crucial issues, from healthcare to climate change to gun control to reproductive rights. As voters, it is our responsibility to make the most informed decisions possible regarding our elected officials.
Furthermore, on November 3, the country will vote on many local elections, the entire House of Representatives, a third of Senate seats, and 13 governor races. With all of this political change about to be set into motion, now is not the time to sleep on it. Democracy—as you may have heard—is not a spectator sport. With more and more young people (late-20s and younger) opting to not vote, political participation among youth has been low. So make sure you’re registered to vote, do ample research, and get ready! Here are ways to stay informed for the 2020 elections.
Inform Yourself With These Resources
Here is a guide on the presidential hopefuls that breaks down who the candidates are and why they are running. This is listed on Ballotpedia, a useful resource for seeking out nonpartisan information on the upcoming election. You can also sign up for a daily presidential news briefing, sent directly to your inbox. It’s always helpful to do more in-depth research on the candidates that appeal to you, and to read up on their levels of experience, past policies, and future plans.
There will be constant updates in the next few months, so it’s important to keep up with headlines and information pertaining to these candidates. It’s equally important to hone your media literacy skills by cross-checking articles for accuracy, paying attention to partisanship or bias from news sources, reading and watching news from several unbiased outlets, and doing more in-depth research when necessary.
Websites & social media
The candidates all have websites and—because it’s 2019—social media platforms that they use to directly speak to voters. Adding candidates of interest to your Twitter or Instagram feed can be a quick way to get updates from their campaigns. But to get more thorough information, you can check out their websites and read about specific policies or visions they have.
Outlets we recommend for political news include NPR, AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, BBC, The Skimm 2020 (their daily newsletter is a great resource as well), C-SPAN, and anything else that tends to be neutral with factual reporting. Here is a Forbes list of 10 nonpartisan news media outlets.
Radio & podcasts
Your local NPR station is an easy and effortless way to get the latest updates on what’s happening politically—find your local NPR member station here. If you prefer podcasts you can listen to from start to finish, here’s a list of daily news podcasts that includes programs like World News Roundup, PBS NewsHour, and BBC News. We also recommend The Argument (from The New York Times), which helps you to form your own opinions by explaining arguments from all sides of the political spectrum.
There is no shortage of news apps you can download to your phone, to check the latest headlines. Here are a few that could be helpful with staying informed for the election:
To really stay on top of it, you can have the push notifications enabled for the top news sites you follow. This way, you can get updates in real time on your phone, and never miss a story or announcement. Gauge what works for you, whether that’s one or two updates, or several.
Engage In-Person With Watch Parties
Here is a schedule of all upcoming 2020 Democratic primary debates. There, you’ll find links that allow you to live stream full debates and watch them after they’ve aired. These debates take place from June 2019 to April 2020. Through watching them, viewers can get a better understanding of candidates’ platforms. It’s also beneficial to see their stage presence, how they act under pressure, how prepared they are, and so on. Candidates can have breakout moments and garner more attention through debates; this can be enough to sway viewers’ opinions on the candidates.
While it’s easy and accessible to watch these debates on your own, it can be a fun experience to watch them with a group of people. This way, you can reflect on what you just watched, discuss the debates, answer each others’ questions, and have a more well-rounded viewing experience. Don’t have people to watch it with? You can find debate watch parties near you through Meetup.
Get Involved And VOTE!
Nothing throws you deeper into political participation than getting involved in grassroots campaigns. You can canvass or phone bank for a candidate you support, advocate for a particular issue, and help register and engage voters. Through actively participating in the democratic process, you’ll come out the other end more informed.
After taking the time to be informed about the candidates, issues, and election process, it’s time to register (or double check your registration) and—of course—vote!
Before the election, make sure to find your polling station or vote by mail. You can help out by encouraging those around you to vote, offering to give people rides to their polling places, and working the polls on election day.
What are some ways you are staying informed for the 2020 elections? Let us know in the comments below!
Belinda Cai is a multimedia journalist who frequently writes about lifestyle, social and environmental justice, and identity and culture. She has a master’s in journalism and communications from the University of Southern California, and hails from Cincinnati, Ohio. When she’s not writing, she’s Wikipedia-spiraling, staying active, enjoying nature, and thrifting. Check out her website and Instagram.