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What should I be doing in the run-up to the General Election?

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In 14 days time, on the 7th of May, the people of Britain will be voting to decide who runs the country for the next 5 years. What should you be doing between now and then? Here’s your election run-up survival pack.

Decide whether you want to vote

You don’t need to decide this right now – it’s good to make an informed decision, so you should probably do the other steps before coming back to this.

Get to know your candidates

When you vote, you’re choosing a Member of Parliament (MP) for your area. So it’s a good idea to find out a bit more about them.

Visit YourNextMP to find out who your candidates are:

  • Visit their Facebook pages, follow them on Twitter, read their LinkedIn profile…
  • Read or request your candidates’ CVs. What’s their background? What qualifies them for the job of MP? If they haven’t sent their CV yet, ask them to!
  • Look at the election leaflets sent in your area
  • Read the election leaflets that come through your door! (And once you’ve read them, upload them to ElectionLeaflets.org so everyone can read what the candidates said)
  • Read what the press are saying about the candidates, thanks to ElectionMentions.com
  • See how your last MP voted at TheyWorkForYou. There’s a good chance they’ll be standing again

Tell your candidates what you want from them

The candidate you select will be representing you – they’ll be making decisions on your behalf. And right now – while they’re trying to win your vote – is the best time to tell them how they can do that.

  • Attend a public debate (or “hustings”) with your local candidates – lots are listed on MeetYourNextMP, but you can find more and add them by googling for “hustings Bristol” (or wherever you live.) This is your chance to meet your candidates and ask them questions about what is important to you.
  • Use YourNextMP to find candidates’ contact details, then email or tweet them and tell them the issues that are important to you.

Figure out where you stand on the issues

There are so many websites to help you do this. There’s a whole list of them here in fact, and there’s even a review of some of the best.

Get the facts

Our friends at FullFact.org are fact checking the whole campaign – make sure you check up on all those numbers that are being thrown around.

Make sure they keep their promises

The whole thing only works if MPs are accountable to you. Candidates make promises on their election leaflets, and most end up in the bin. One thing you can do right now is upload your leaflets to ElectionLeaflets.org, to make sure they’ll be saved and publicly visible.

Help others make an informed choice too

A better informed set of voters is in everyone’s interests. So helping other people make a more informed choice is super valuable. The following websites are all crowdsourced, and you can help any of them by just contributing the information you’ve found out today:

  • MeetYourNextMP – did you find out about a hustings event? Add it!
  • Democracy Club CVs – if a candidate hasn’t uploaded a CV, ask them why not!
  • ElectionLeaflets – upload the leaflets that came through your door (so we can check back and see if they’ve kept their promises)
  • YourNextMP – did you find a twitter account for that candidate? Add it!
  • ElectionMentions.com - find a candidate without any known news articles about them and add one!