10/23/2014 11:33 am ET Updated Dec 23, 2014

Cutting Through the Noise: Nonpartisan Candidate Guides

We're in the campaign home stretch, and it's ugly. The races are close. The results will determine how we engage issues from climate change to Ebola, ISIS, and an ever more unequal economy. Yet it's tempting to tune out the elections given the deluge of attack ads and spin, and the toxic influence of ever-escalating dollars.

That's particularly true for the majority of Americans who don't make politics the centerpiece of their world. Instead most of us struggle just to get by, while hoping, with diminishing faith, that someone will deal with the array of national and global crises. Particularly in non-presidential years, too many citizens decide that the entire electoral arena is so corrupt and confusing as to not be worth engaging.

America's 20 million students have often been among those often missing in action in our closest elections, with four out of five staying home in 2010's closest and most consequential races. One major reason students say they don't vote, is that "Everyone's lying. Everybody's spinning. They all have handlers, so you don't know who to believe." To overcome this withdrawal, we started the national nonpartisan Campus Election Engagement Project, helping colleges and universities help students of all political perspectives to register, learn about the issues, and participate at the polls. 500 campuses used our materials in 2008 and 750 in 2012. We're now working in 20 states to get students involved in the 2014 midterms.

To cut through the cynical retreat, we've produced nonpartisan voter guides where we sum up candidate positions as concisely as possible so readers can make accurate comparisons. Students of widely differing beliefs have responded wonderfully, finding the guides enormously helpful in sorting out candidate stands.

But they're not just useful for students or young voters. We all face challenges in sorting through political evasions and lies. So we're also posting our guides more generally. Some major states are omitted. We've only had resources to produce them for states where we're actively working, or have active partners. But here are ones we've completed. You can also download PDFs for these same guides at our project website. So we hope you'll check out the major candidates for your state and forward the guides to friends who are on the fence on who to vote for, or whether to vote at all.

Alaska (Governor and Senate)
Arizona (Governor)
Arkansas (Governor and Senate)
Colorado (Governor, Senate and 6th Congressional district)
Florida (Governor and Second Congressional District)
Georgia (Governor and Senate)
Illinois (Governor)
Iowa (Governor ,Senate, and Third Congressional District)
Kansas (Governor and Senate)
Kentucky (Senate)
Louisiana (Senate)
Maine (Governor , Senate, and Second Congressional District)
Michigan (Governor and Senate
Montana (Senate)
New Hampshire (Senate)
New Mexico (Senate and Governor)
North Carolina (Senate)
Ohio (Governor and Secretary of State)
Pennsylvania (Governor)
South Dakota (Senate)
Virginia (Senate)
West Virginia (Senate)
Wisconsin (Governor)
Wyoming (Senate)

If you live in one of these states, or have friends who do, please check out the relevant guides and pass them on as widely as you can. For all the frustrations of our political time, a small number of votes will likely determine some critical directions for America's future. So if you can help friends and colleagues learn what they're voting for, it's a service to democracy.

Guides created by the national nonpartisan Campus Election Engagement Project from sources like,,,, and, and from major media coverage.