All of the political stomping lately has gotten me thinking about our voting behavior and how we research (or don't research) those running for public office. There are the obvious speeches and debates that allow us to get a "feel" for a candidate, but ... really ... they can say anything. Speeches and debates do give an idea of someone's ability to make a compelling argument and persuade, but this does not inform us as to what a candidate does or will do when it comes time to make decisions.
I prefer to look beyond what political candidates say; I want to see what they do. How do they vote in the legislature on issues? Which pieces of legislation do state governors sign and which pieces do they veto? These are things that speeches, debates, and YouTube sound bites won't tell me. Even voting records don't tell all of the story since deals are made and constituencies must be represented, but I believe I get a truer picture of what to expect in the future by looking at some facts.
Here are a few websites I point students to for research purposes.
A few good places to research Senate and House votes and activity:
United States Senate Roll Call
The Congressional Record
CQ Weekly (Consult your public library or a Federal Depository Library near you.)
A few good places to find out what the issues and votes are in your state:
Find your governor's website here or here
Find your state legislature website
Find your state website
National Conference of State Legislatures (I just discovered this site and haven't analyzed it yet, but it looks very interesting.)
Federal Election Commission