“That can’t be true!”
We hear a lot of strange things around the time of elections. With all the debates and speeches, town hall meetings, and news interviews, it’s hard to know what to believe! Some things seem too good to be true (or too crazy to be true)…and others are just confusing references to laws and statistics that most people don’t know how to verify for the truth.
If you’re not sure what to think, don’t worry…the library is all about getting people accurate information! We want to make sure all our community members get the facts about the candidates and their platforms (and also about all other elected public officials). The key is knowing how to fact check. An informed voter is a smart voter!
Fact checking is important for all American citizens, but in order to do it properly you have to use credible resources. Checking the accuracy of a candidate on their own website is probably not a good idea…obviously a campaign website is going to be biased in favor of their own candidate and biased against other candidates. Instead, utilize a non-partisan and neutral source, and preferably one that is a well-known organization with a long-standing reputation. We can recommend a few for you!
Politifact is a Pulitzer Prize winning organization run by the editors and reporters of the Tampa Bay Times that rates the accuracy of claims made by elected officials and other political persons of interest. They partner with news organizations from various states in order to provide this service at the state level, not just the national level. And yes, there is a Politifact Virginia organization! They appear regularly on public radio.
Politifact’s method is to rate claims as True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False, and Pants on Fire on their Truth-O-Meter. They generally also give an explanation as to why they rated a claim as such, and back it up with the appropriate evidence. This organization also brings us the Flip-O-Meter, which tracks whether an official has been consistent on a particular issue, and the Pledge-O-Meter which rates the promises made by campaigns. Useful, huh?
Punditfact is part of the Politifact organization, but they dedicate themselves strictly to rating the accuracy of claims made by pundits, columnists, bloggers, analysts, and the media. They use the same Truth-O-Meter rating system as Politifact. A great source to keep in mind for when your favorite political news personalities are stretching the truth!
FactCheck is a nonprofit organization that describes themselves as being a “consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” (http://www.factcheck.org/about/our-mission)
They look at what people say in ads, debates, interviews, etc. and assess the accuracy of the claims made. This project is run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell which candidate you really identify with. If you want to see which platform fits your beliefs and priorities, take this quiz! The more questions you answer, the more accurate your result (plus it’s kind of fun!)
Teens can visit this site by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) to find tons of information and links that are specific to teenage voters!
Now that you’re a well-informed constituent, it’s time to get ready to vote! Visit our Be Ready to Vote page to learn more about voting in your area.