Green Voting in the Midterm Election

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Election Day is this Tuesday, Nov. 7 ? it’s time to make your voice
heard. And your vote matters more now than ever before. Every state
will have ballots, covering everything from local propositions to
federal representation. This year, voters get to send a clear
message to Congress: 33 Senate seats are up for re-election and
each of the 435 representatives in the House will either keep his
or her job, or have to clear out for someone new. So, don’t think
for a second that your vote doesn’t matter or isn’t worth the time
? this election could bring about sweeping change and set a new
tone for the direction of our country.

From the Iraq war to the economy to political corruption, a handful
of front-and-center issues will be on voters’ minds. But just as
relevant are looming energy and environmental issues, such as
global warming, unstable gas prices and our addiction to oil. The
leaders we elect now will either keep us going on the same course
or implement real solutions.

The good news is it’s easy to make sure your vote goes to those who
will support sustainable, alternative energy (such as wind and
solar) and action to curb greenhouse gases.

The best resource comes from the nonprofit
League of
Conservation Voters
(LCV), which maintains its
Environmental Scorecard
. The Scorecard provides an easy way to
gauge congressional voting records on top environmental issues. If
you want to know what legislators have done, rather than just what
they promise, this is a great tool. Each senator and representative
gets a score based on his or her voting record, from zero to 100;
the higher the number, the better. The League maintains lifetime
scores for legislators, as well as scores for their voting records
in the most recent sessions of Congress. The Scorecard provides
objective and factual analysis of votes on the most important
environmental legislation considered. To select the votes and
issues on which to grade members of Congress, the League relies on
experts from more than 20 respected energy, conservation and
environmental organizations.

It may come as a surprise that there are quite a few legislators
with perfect scores for this session: 93 representatives and 19
senators. Of those, all are Democrats except for two

One example of how the scorecard could swing votes is with Sen.
George Allen, R-Va., who faces a tight race in his bid for
re-election. Allen has an LCV score of zero percent for the most
recent session of Congress. Another close contest is in New Jersey,
where incumbent Democrat Sen. Robert Menendez has a score of 100

Among the many incumbents caught in tight races for the House of
Representatives, two examples are Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., who
has an LCV score of 17 percent; and Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan., who has
a score of zero percent.

The latter two Republicans also earned dismal scores from the
nonprofit Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP)
in its first scorecard. REP seeks to ‘resurrect’ the conservation
tradition of the GOP exemplified by President Theodore Roosevelt
and others. REP scores are similar in methodology to those from
LCV, except REP also adds or subtracts credit for non-voting
actions that demonstrate positive or negative leadership on
environmental issues; this factor gave Rep. Pombo a score of

Republicans with the best REP scores are Rep. Sherwood Boehlert
(N.Y.), 108; Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (Pa.), 100; Rep. Jim Saxton
(N.J.), 100 and Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), 87.

Check out the resources below to learn more about the candidates
and issues in this election.

League of
Conservation Voters

Republicans for Environmental Protection
U.S. Public Interest Research Group

Sierra Club

Election Guides
The New York Times
The Washington Post
Utne Reader

Candidates’ Backgrounds and Contributors
Center for
Responsive Politics

Project Vote