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Politics online: A Voter's Guide to the Web

October 17, 1996
Web posted at: 11:00 p.m. EDT

From CNN Interactive Staff Writer Liza Kaufman Hogan

(CNN) -- Although the general election is only weeks away, there's still plenty of time to become a learned voter before heading to the polls. The Web offers a wealth of election information, news and satirical fun for newbies and political buffs alike.

Just the Facts, please

vote smart

Not sure who's running for Congress from your district? Want to know where a candidate stands on abortion or taxes? Can't find that newspaper section outlining the candidates' positions? You'll find this information in seconds on the Web.

Vote Smart Web is a great place to start. The web site is part of Project Vote Smart, a voter education initiative sponsored by the non-partisan, non-profit Center for National Independence in Politics.

The site allows you type in your zip code and get information on who is running for federal state office in your district, and -- for those candidates who choose to take the National Political Awareness test -- where they stand on major issues. The site also has full texts of speeches by five presidential candidates, links to other national political resources and campaign finance information.

For more complete campaign finance information, the Federal Elections Commission is your site for one-stop shopping. Here you'll find an accounting of what people and which organizations have written checks to candidates running for federal office. Search FEC files by name or get the names of the top 100 contributors in your state. Find out who your elected officials are beholden to, or get into a heated discussion on campaign finance reform.

all politics

Election News

If you're tired of horse-race coverage of elections on television, try the Web for political news. Virtually every major media outlet has some political coverage on the Web. Among the best known is AllPolitics, a joint project of CNN and Time magazine. Here you'll find the latest political news including in-depth daily coverage of the presidential campaign, political analysis, polls, interactive games, lively chat rooms, and state-by-state election information.

ABC News, the Washington Post, Newsweek, the National Journal and the Los Angeles Times have teamed up to provide PoliticsNow, a merger of the now-defunct political sites ElectionLine and PoliticsUSA. The site includes news stories from each of its contributors as well as interactive extras like a survey that lets you test your positions on issues against those of your elected officials.

Other political news Web sites include: NPR Election '96 CBS Campaign '96 C-Span Online George magazine


Partisan Politics

Politicians have wasted no time in getting onto the Web. It's proving to be a cost effective way to take their message straight to the voters. Of course, these sites will give you a decidedly rosy picture of the candidate, but many offer voters an opportunity to send e-mail to candidates, participate in focus groups and learn more about the candidates' views.

The Republican National Committee's Web site is a well-designed site promoting all things Republican. Features include highlights from GOP-TV, illuminating charts and graphs from the RNC and the Clinton Calendar billed as a "day by day, scandal by scandal, flip- flop by flip-flop" accounting of the Clinton administration. It's icon is a flipping waffle stolen straight from "Doonesbury."

Democrats can find their party online at the Clinton/Gore '96 or learn about the "L"-word at Turnleft: The Home of Liberalism on the Web.

While you won't find complete coverage of lesser-known parties and candidates in the mainstream media, the Web offers something for every political persuasion from Libertarians to Communists.


Just for kicks

If all this talk of politics has you wishing the elections were over, lighten up with a few sites that don't take the campaign game so seriously.

Scampaign ' 96 from ComedyUSA offers political jokes from both sides of the aisle and satire from comedian Barry Weintraub. You can also sign up for daily doses of political humor via e-mail from the site.

Several election sites offer interactive political games. PoliticsNow has "The Inaugural Bowl" a political trivia game in which you are the presidential candidate. Answer a trivia question for a particular state and win that state's electoral votes. Win 270 electoral votes and you're on your way to the White House. All in virtual fun, of course unless you win a drawing for a real trip for two to the inauguration.

President '96 from AllPolitics is another campaign simulation game that tests your ability, not as a candidate, but as a campaign manager. Pick a candidate, learn the issues, test the prevailing political winds, and you make the calls. Win or lose.

For more good political sites, check out AllPolitics WebWatch:


Related sites:

  • The Home of Liberalism
  • NPR Election '96
  • Federal Elections Commission
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