Voter trap to avoid: Vote for candidates on faith when you can get information. Pay attention to past scandals or unethical behavior. Be aware that being a well-known “voice” in a community does not guarantee that person will be effective if elected. Appearance and popularity do not serve the people well, unlike officials who are principled, intentional and productive.
When a candidate has never held public office, voters must believe some of their promises. But where a candidate has held public office before or is currently in office, there are a wealth of publicly available documents you can use to find out what that candidate has accomplished and how they interact with other public officials.
What legislation or public policies have they introduced or helped to pass?
Information about each US invoice Congress members have sponsored or co-sponsored is available on their profiles.
You can search for bills in the Michigan Legislature by their sponsor. You can also view the profiles of your representatives on their House of Representatives Where Senate website. These often provide more information about the bills they have sponsored or supported.
What is their voting record?
Recent votes of the United States House of Representatives can be found on the member profiles United States Registrar Page Roll-call votes for both houses of Congress are counted and posted by bill number within one hour of the vote.
You can find out how state lawmakers voted on a particular bill if you have the invoice number.
Does your public official seem effective in their current role?
Almost all business conducted by state and city governments must be transacted in meetings open to the public, in accordance with the Public Meetings Act. The Michigan Municipal League offers a summary legal requirements.
Watching or attending public meetings allows you to see firsthand how elected officials vote. Attending public meetings is a great way to see your elected officials in action and help you decide if they are effective in their role.
For judges, you may be able to watch videos from the courtroom to see how they treat defendants and complainants. The 3rd Judicial Court and Court of the 36th districtboth based in Detroit, let you watch live and recorded court cases.
To determine if an elected official is effective, it is important to consider what they are trying to do and whether they are faithfully representing the community. Another consideration is whether they adequately represent all of their constituents. It is important that elected officials make decisions that include residents who come from diverse backgrounds and unique experiences.
Does your public official behave like a professional?
During meetings, public officials follow rules to maintain “decorum” or propriety. Professionalism in government indicates a level of competence required for a government to effectively serve its citizens. Lack of professionalism can make establishing good governance even more difficult than it already is.
Public officials often face conflict, opposition and criticism. Insults and unprofessional language in response only add fuel to the fire. It also takes away the reason they’re there – to better serve your needs. There are many ways to respond to conflict while holding public office or running for office. Ask yourself if their answer makes sense and is rational.
Read the rest of the Detroit Documenters Voters Guide and search for unfamiliar terms in our vote with confidence glossary. Still have questions about voting in Detroit? Email us at [email protected].
Originally published by our media partner Aberrant media. It is republished with permission.