The previous articles I have written – covering the Orange County candidates at the debate in Avalon Park or reporting the responses of Congressional candidates (Kurt Kelly and Sandy Adams, so far) – have been written with the express purpose of providing information to the electorate. This is done for a very specific reason: trying to get Catholics to vote like Catholics.
What do I mean by that? I mean that even though both parties heavily courted Catholics in the last few elections (due to a belief that they vote as a bloc), Catholics were split fairly evenly between the candidates (Bush got only a few more percentage points than Kerry).
While liberal Catholics tend to vote more with Democrats largely for social justice concerns (e.g., the poor and welfare programs), the main reasons why conservative or orthodox Catholics and Christians tend to vote Republican are because of abortion, euthanasia, stem cells, and other moral concerns. However, even these generalizations are just that – general. They are not clear-cut, because there are variances within the parties, as well as among the candidates, in spite of what the official party platform might be.
For this reason, the Florida Catholic Conference makes various election resources available, including publishing the results of their Candidate Questionnaire Project every election year, just prior to the primaries and elections. These results are available by candidate, as well as in a condensed format as bulletin inserts or handouts for each diocese to bring with you to the election booth (Orlando diocese, click here). If you are unsure who your current elected officials are (or even what district you are in), you can look that up as well.
Additionally, for those that wish to make sure they are forming their consciences properly, in order to more closely follow authentic Catholic teachings, Catholic Answers has published an informative voters’ guide, called “The Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics”. This booklet costs 40 cents (lower bulk rates are offered), but it is also available for free as part of a 2-CD set, called “Five Non-Negotiables”, which not only explains the Church’s teachings on these five issues, but also answers questions regarding voting (or narrowing your vote) according to these guidelines.
Lastly, CatholicVote.org is an excellent organization that also explains the larger issues from a Catholic perspective. They focus on outreach and education throughout the year, not just towards the end of an election cycle.
With these resources available, Catholics are afforded a wealth of information and guidance to make their ballot booth decisions easier, while also engaging their minds to reflect on the larger issues, instead of being distracted by the flash of charismatic politicians and slick campaign ads. And if you still don’t know what your Orange County ballot will look like, be sure to check out the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website.