OPINION: 5 sites that will boost your political awareness

It’s election time again, and there’s no shortage of spin and distortion about candidates and issues. Fortunately, we have some very good political Web sites to help us make well-reasoned choices at the ballot box. And that’s just the start: Some of our other favorite sites use the latest Web tools to bring a new transparency to governments, special interests and campaigns – year round.

1) FedSpending.org

We all pay taxes. A lot of taxes. FedSpending.org gives you easy ways to see exactly where, and on what, your federal tax dollars are being spent.

2) OpenCongress

OpenCongress combines official government data with news coverage, blog posts, and commentary to give you the real story about what’s happening in Congress-from bills to scandals.

3) PolitiFact Truth-o-Meter

You hear a lot of bluff and bluster, slips, spin, and even outright lies during campaign season. Every day the reporters and researchers at PolitiFact (a team effort of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly) fact-check every word of candidates’ speeches, TV ads, and interviews to determine the amount of truth in the claims they make.

4) Project Vote Smart

Run by a bipartisan group of interns and volunteers, Project Vote Smart publishes the biographies, voting records, and other details about all presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislative candidates.

5) OpenSecrets.org

All candidates for federal office must report the people and organizations that have contributed money to their campaigns. These revenue sources, of course, often serve as fairly accurate predictors of the decisions that a candidate might make once he or she takes office-because you don’t forget your friends, right?

Yes, the Internet is becoming a central part of politics, and someday soon we’ll cast our votes online too.

Related content:

Voting groups release guidelines for e-voting checks

Twitter launches election site to tap election “Tweets”

Google shares presidential candidate RSS reading lists

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