Voting for the first time? We’ve got you covered.

Tara Kapoor, Senior Staff Writer

We know you’re tired of the perpetual buzz of innumerable candidates bickering in Democratic debates and campaigning furiously across the nation, flooding newspaper headlines nationwide. But as the primaries near and you take a look at your empty ballot, civic responsibility as an American calls on you to vote — in an educated manner.

As we interviewed Paly students across grade levels, an overwhelming majority confessed to a lack of knowledge regarding the presidential race. Those who were set on a candidate shared various viewpoints — from supporting Sanders’ progressive policies to admiring Gabbard’s army background to following Biden’s popular name.

If you aren’t sure which candidate to check on the ballot, a plethora of resources span the web to help you discover who you align with the most. Many candidates sport one adventurous policy that captures the spotlight and garners votes from large sums of the population. In the face of catchy slogans and lofty pledges, voters must educate themselves on the possible long-term implications of given policies and question electability nationwide.

Spending a few minutes to look into the backgrounds of each candidate can uncover a new perspective on whose stance on hot-button issues best aligns with yours. If you enjoy playing 20 questions, The Washington Post published an interactive quiz which gives readers a digestible analysis of the main candidates in the running and their stances on a wide range of hard-hitting policies.

You never know — launching a search into the details of one policy you are passionate about may uncover insight into other policies you never knew interested you, further developing your political acumen.

Nonetheless, as the national election monopolizes our attention, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of local and state level politics, which have the potential to drastically affect our lives — possibly even more so than the leaders passing through the Oval Office.

Perhaps deemed insignificant for lack of press coverage and publicity, voters tend not to show for midterms and local elections, allowing incumbent candidates and those with name-recognition to emerge victorious. Only 53% of those eligible cast their vote during the 2018 midterms, compared to a 61.4% in the 2016 presidential election, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Our current representatives are our voice in Congress, drafting legislation and proposing bills intended to represent the asks of people on a local level. Selecting candidates who vouch for your opinions will pay off if they take action in the House.

Simply taking a minute to look at the local candidates up for election beforehand can make a world of difference when scanning the wearisome list of often unfamiliar names under each section on your ballot on voting day.

So make your voice heard. When Super Tuesday comes around this week, go out and cast a vote instead of letting it fall under your radar — our democracy depends on it.