Section: Opinion

Column: Voters must stay educated despite misinformation

It’s easy to become jaded by the constant bombardment of headlines about infuriating Supreme Court rulings and discriminatory bills being passed at both state and nationwide levels. Why keep up with current events when said events are just depressing? In the face of the seemingly insurmountable forces of misinformation and actively hostile legislatures, why even try to make a change? Simply put, change is impossible without awareness of the issues we face and potential solutions. Staying informed is more important than ever as we enter yet another unprecedented election season, and one of the first key steps in that process is to learn what resources are at our disposal in that regard.

Thanks to the wonders of the Information Age, there’s no shortage of places to start this process. One good place to start is an analytical website like AllSides, which compiles news articles from a variety of sources and presents them along a political spectrum. Instead of an arbitrary, static rating, the website allows for its visitors to provide their input on whether a news outlet’s bias rating is accurate. Though the name “AllSides” implies an annoyingly ambivalent political stance, the website itself is a fantastic place to start gathering and filtering information.

“Misinformation Watch,” a feature on AllSides, critiques media portrayals of national and statewide politics by highlighting common distortions with specific examples. For instance, in a roundup of misinformation regarding crime and immigration, the blog post criticizes the Heritage Foundation. The far-right think tank notorious for its creation of “Project 2025,” a systematic plan to grant authoritarian power to a hypothetically victorious Donald Trump, reported that most federal arrests in 2018 were of non-citizens. The blog post clarifies, however, that the overwhelming majority of those arrests of non-citizens were for re-entry attempts. Critical analysis such as this is an essential tool. Without solid media literacy, we may fall victim to the constant misrepresentations endemic to mass media outlets.

In the face of purposeful misrepresentation such as the Heritage Foundation’s reporting, it helps to have a resource that provides clear information on ways to learn about and engage in democracy. I have found that the League of Women Voters, a nationwide voting and women’s rights advocacy organization, makes it easy to take the information we have critically analyzed and put it into action. Their mission is simple: “empowering voters. Defending democracy.” Not only does their website provide easy-to-digest summaries of the importance of every level of election from presidential to local, it also has a number of links to ways you can further your knowledge and take action. Their informative hotline, VOTE411, is linked multiple times, for example. Additionally, there are links to a database of elected officials’ information and bullet-pointed moves to support free elections such as demanding representatives to pass specific voting rights bills. Although some perceive the League as leaning left, ensuring a free democratic system and elections is a nonpartisan issue that should be actively engaged in on every level.

I don’t pretend to be unbiased. In fact, I consider myself much further left-wing than most of my peers. This article isn’t intended to change your political affiliation, but instead to stress the necessity of informed voting and critical media analysis. Whether it’s your local school board or congressional elections, we have an obligation to both make our voices heard and lift up those voices that have been cast to the side in this nation’s history. The future is in our hands, but we must make informed choices to ensure there’s a country left to inherit.

Austin Vaughan ’26 is a Psychology and English major with a concentration in Creative Writing from Cincinnati. He can be reached at vaughan1@kenyon.edu.

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