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The 2012 Scarleteen U.S. Presidental Election Voting Guide

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While Scarleteen serves an international readership, we're based in the United States, and our country of residence greatly impacts our organization and around half of the 4-5 million users who come to Scarleteen each year. The Presidential Election is here, so it's time again for those of us at Scarleteen to do what we can to help our users best participate in this important and big part of the democratic process.

Many of you are first-time voters: welcome to your right to vote (sorry you had to wait so long!) and we sincerely hope you'll exercise it. We provide this nonpartisan guide each time around to best help you make your own choice in who you vote for for president. In it, you'll find links to the major candidates and parties, a basic rundown of the major candidates' positions and records on central issues, some listed supporters and endorsements for the candidates, and more  information on where they stand on issues central to what we do here at Scarleteen.

We suggest you take a look through these materials, then spend some time looking at the party platforms and each of the candidate's websites, and keep up with the news as best you can. Checking out your favorite political groups and organizations, the ones you respect, and seeing what they have to say about the candidates is also a great help in making voting decisions. This guide is jam-packed with links that will lead you to more information on the candidates, so if you just keep clicking, you're going to become an expert in no time. Even if you're not yet of age to vote, go on and inform yourself: you can use this information in talking to your siblings, parents or grandparents whose vote will impact you.

Any time we vote, we don't just vote for ourselves as individuals, but for all our fellow citizens, even those who are radically different than we are. In alignment with our core values here at Scarleteen -- things like compassion, fairness, inclusion, equality and the health and well-being of the 100% -- we feel that how you vote is as important as if you vote, and would implore you to be civic-minded in your voting choices.

The Candidates & Their Party Platforms

Democratic Party: Barack Obama (bio), Joe Biden • Democratic party platformCandidate website
Republican Party: Mitt Romney (bio), Paul Ryan Republican party platformCandidate website
Green Party: Dr. Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala• Green party platformCandidate website
Libertarian Party Gary Johnson, Jim Gray • Libertarian party platformCandidate website

Click here for a list of all other candidates

Basic Positions and Voting Records

Obama/Biden (Democrat)Romney/Ryan (Republican)Stein/Honkala (Green)Johnson/Gray (Libertarian)
Accurate Sex Ed/Birth Control AccessSupportsStrongly OpposesStrongly SupportsSupports
Alternative EnergySupportsOpposesStrongly SupportsOpposes
Civil RightsStrongly SupportsStrongly OpposesStrongly SupportsStrongly Supports
Death PenaltyMixed RecordStrongly SupportsStrongly OpposesStrongly Opposes
Expanding/Supporting the MilitarySupportsStrongly SupportsStrongly OpposesStrongly Opposes
GLBT RightsSupportsOpposesStrongly SupportsSupports
Gun ControlSupportsSupportsStrongly SupportsStrongly Opposes
Healthcare Access/Public HealthStrongly SupportsMixed RecordStrongly SupportsSupports
Immigrant/Undocumented RightsSupportsOpposesStrongly SupportsStrongly Supports
Minimum Wage IncreasesStrongly SupportsOpposesStrongly SupportsNeutral
Progressive Taxation/Tax ReformStrongly SupportsStrongly OpposesStrongly SupportsStrongly Opposes
Public EducationStrongly SupportsMixed RecordStrongly SupportsOpposes
Reproductive/Womens' RightsStrongly SupportsStrongly OpposesStrongly SupportsSupports
Separation of Church & StateSupportsOpposesStrongly SupportsStrongly Supports

(The overall positions listed above and below are based on information from the candidates websites, the debates, public statements, voting records and the sources listed at the bottom of this page. When a candidate's record or statements on an issue have been mixed or conflicting, "mixed record" reflects that. )

The Candidates on Our Issues

Following are rundowns of the primary candidates positions and records on issues central to Scarleteen and our readers: healthcare, women's rights, reproductive rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, access to contraception, sex and general education as well as some other issues particularly pertinent to youth, like education, the minimum wage and censorship. You'll also find lots of links nestled into the text, so if you aren't familiar with a given act, bill or issue, you'll be able to get up-to-speed with a click.

The listing of only two parties should not be interpreted as our support of a two-party system. We have listed the rundown for only the major two candidates simply due to time and resource limitations.



  • Supported and signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, strengthening women's ability to win monetary damages for pay discrimination
  • Supported and signed Affordable Care Act, which banned denial of health insurance coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy; expanded mandatory insurance coverage for mammograms, and domestic violence counseling; provided new protections for workplace breastfeeding
  • Opposed cuts to Planned Parenthood funding and other family planning services in the federal budget
  • Expanded legal rights of domestic violence sufferers in federally subsidized housing
  • Ended "Mexico City Policy" (Global Gag Rule) denying US funding to international organizations that perform or offer information about abortion.Supports women's pay equity via Equal Pay Act
  • Supports re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment
  • Voted NO on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business
  • Biden authored and Obama supports the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which included ending the practice of women paying for their own rape exams; Obama passed a law to create the Victim Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) to help victims of abuse seek treatment without losing their job, introduced legislation to combat domestic violence by providing $25 million a year for partnerships between domestic violence prevention organizations and fatherhood or marriage programs
  • Fought to maintain funding for the Centers of Excellence in Women's Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, supports legislation to encourage research that will examine gender and health disparities; is an original co-sponsor of Johanna's Law, to educate women and increase awareness of ovarian cancer
  • Supports Roe Vs. Wade, disagreed with Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, but supports restrictions of late-term abortions when health of mother is not at stake, has stated pro-choice stance
  • Opposes parental notification laws for minors seeking abortion


  • Romney stated he supported abortion rights previous to becoming MA governor; now states he is firmly pro-life and has said he will be a "pro-life President"
  • States "Scientifically, life begins at conception"
  • When asked if the repeal of Roe v. Wade would be a good day for America, Romney responded, "Absolutely," and has stated he will support and facilitate the overturn of Roe vs. Wade
  • States he would be "delighted" to sign federal ban on all abortions
  • Vetoed availability of morning-after pill over-the-counter for all ages
  • Endorsed legalization of RU-486
  • Paul Ryan mocked the War on Women: "Now it's a war on women; tomorrow it's going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something like that"
  • Ryan has also stated that "rape is just another form of conception"
  • During his time in the House, Ryan has cast 60 votes on abortion and other reproductive-rights issues, all were anti-choice
  • Ryan cosponsored "personhood" legislation so extreme that, if passed, it would ban abortion care in almost all cases, including rape or incest; cosponsored a measure that would force a woman to undergo an ultrasound before she can receive abortion care, even if her doctor doesn't recommend it and it is against the woman's will



  • Supported and signed Affordable Care Act, which banned denial of health insurance coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy; expanded mandatory insurance coverage for HIV testing and contraception
  • Supports expansion of reproductive health services on military bases
  • Obama administration blocked non-prescription sale of Plan B birth control (the "morning after" pill) to young women under the age of 17
  • Biden and Obama are two of several original sponsors of the Prevention First Act, a a comprehensive family planning umbrella bill with a number of subsidiary goals, including rape victim assistance, reducing abortions, emergency contraception and accurate and comprehensive sex education; co-sponsored several bills to increase funding for family planning that will prevent unintended and teen pregnancies, like the Communities of Color Teen Pregnancy Act
  • Supports education for young children about safety from sexual predators and sexual abuse; supports comprehensive sex education
  • Supports the Title X national family planning program (which provides women with health-care services ranging from birth control to breast cancer screenings), seeks to expand access to contraception
  • Supports providing emergency contraception for rape survivors who want it
  • Obama introduced the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act in 2007 to reduce the price of birth control pills on campus
  • Supports requiring health plans to cover basic birth control


  • States every woman in America should have access to contraceptives, but advocates abstinence, vowed to eliminate President Obama's policy ensuring that women can get contraceptive coverage without a copay, opposes requiring churches to have insurance which covers employee contraception, and Romney has written he would "eliminate Title X family planning programs," which includes federal funding for birth control and cancer screenings
  • Has called Plan B "abortive" and a "violation of conscience"
  • Romney vetoed a bill giving rape survivors information about and timely access to emergency contraception
  • During his 2002 campaign, Romney had said he backed age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education in public schools. But in 2005, against the will of the state legislature, he introduced federally-funded abstinence-only education programs developed by a subsidiary of a Christian anti-abortion organization into public schools
  • Romney has stated he plans to reinstate the Global Gag Rule
  • Supports abstinence-only sex education for 12-14 year-olds
  • Romney and Ryan supported the Blunt amendment, which would have allowed bosses to deny birth-control coverage to their employees
  • Ryan supports parental notification for abortion; voted YES on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad
  • Romney and Ryan support personhood measures



  • Extended federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender or gender identity
  • Supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would expand federal job discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Supported and signed repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, criminalizing sexual orientation discrimination in the US military
  • Ended Department of Justice defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal courts
  • Supports same-sex marriage
  • Instituted policy requiring all hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding to recognize visitation rights of same-sex domestic partners
  • Expanded federal employment benefits to same-sex partners of executive branch and foreign service employees
  • President Obama, Vice President Biden, and members of the White House staff each released "It Gets Better" videos in support of LGBT youth
  • Biden has stated that discrimination against transgender people is the "civil rights issue of our time.”
  • Supports affirmative action in college admissions
  • Opposes racial profiling: seeks a ban on racial profiling
  • Feels America's race and class problems are intertwined, introduced legislation to devote $50 million for transitional and bridge employment programs for homeless veterans, children aging out of foster care, and people returning to communities after serving time in prison
  • Voted NO to extend Patriot Act provisions allowing the FBI to conduct 'roving wiretaps', supported reinstating Habeas Corpus rights to detainees at Guantanamo Bay
  • Supports the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, co-sponsored the ADA Amendments Act, sponsored bill for special-needs evacuation plans, seeks to strengthen the ADA and the Community Choice Act, seeks to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, has which includes educational opportunities, fighting discrimination, increasing employment and support for independent, community-based living
  • Opposed CA Prop. 8, one-man-one-woman marriage, Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage; supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples equal legal rights and privileges as married couples
  • Supports including sexual orientation in anti-discrimination laws and hate crimes


  • Put the gay marriage ban into GOP party platform
  • Strongly opposes same-sex marriage; has stated will seek federal same-sex marriage ban that defines marriage as only between men and women
  • Supported ENDA to ban anti-gay employer discrimination (1994)
  • Supported Don't Ask, Don't Tell
  • Romney bullied a gay student while attending boarding school
  • Supported English-only laws and policies
  • Ryan supported Don't Ask, Don't Tell, opposed gay adoption and hate crime laws; but supported ban on employment discrimination based on orientation
  • Ryan voted YES on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman; YES on a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage



  • Supported new, stronger polices governing campus sexual assault
  • Raised maximum Pell Grant to $5,550
  • Expanded income-based repayment for college loans, capping student loan payments at a percentage of income
  • Supports private, charter and public schooling: opposes vouchers
  • Proposes "Zero to Five" plan which places key emphasis at early care and education for infants; will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state "zero to five" efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school
  • Proposes investing $10 billion a year to increase the number of children eligible for Early Head Start, increase access to preschool, provide affordable and quality child care and increase coordination across federal, state and local levels
  • Proposes an annual $4,000 tuition credit that will cover two-thirds of the tuition of an average public college and make community college completely free in America, says he would expand the Pell Grant and lower interest rates on the existing federal student loan programs
  • Voted YES on $5B for grants to local educational agencies, voted YES on $52M for "21st century community learning centers," voted YES on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education, supports the DREAM Act for the children of undocumented immigrants
  • Voted YES on increasing minimum wage, feels the minimum wage must be a living wage
  • Supports the 2nd Amendment
  • Does not support teacher-led prayer in schools, but supports voluntary student prayer
  • Has a plan to support the arts, including the creation of an "Artists Corps" of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and their communities and use of art as one means of nurturing cultural diplomacy
  • Feels parents, not government, should filter media for minors


  • Romney is strongly linked to several teen boot camps, with many reports of sexual and other abuses of teens
  • Romney vetoed $220K for state-run homelessness projects
  • Supported No Child Left Behind
  • Supports faith-based programs to provide social services
  • Stated he is "not concerned about very poor; We have a safety net there"
  • Enforced school reforms that required standardized tests for high school students to graduate
  • Does not support teacher's unions
  • Opposes SOPA
  • Opposes the Fairness Doctrine
  • Ryan has stated "Stop pushing God from the public realm & public schools"
  • Romney states "Failure to educate minorities is a civil rights issue"
  • Ryan voted NO on $40B for green public schools; NO on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges; NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects
  • Ryan voted NO on expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program; NO on adding 2 to 4 million children to SCHIP eligibility; Voted NO on increasing minimum wage to $7.25
  • Ryan voted YES on increasing fines for "indecent" broadcasting



  • Says healthcare is a right for all
  • Worked with Congress to create and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA/commonly called Obamacare) and sign into law, with the intent to decrease the number of uninsured Americans and reduce overall healthcare costs
  • Feels the problem with healthcare access in America is poverty and healthcare-as-business, rather than as social service
  • Stated he would allow individuals below age 26 to be covered through their parents'insurance plans; this has since been implemented as part of the ACA
  • Feels US should lead the global fight against HIV/AIDS, supports condom distribution and promotion of HIV testing as well as abstinence, voted to increase funding for AIDS treatment & prevention
  • Wants to expand flex-work & Family and Medical Leave Act, seeks to expand Medicaid, supports preventive health strategies including initiatives in the workplace, schools, and communities
  • Cosponsored the Healthy Kids Act of 2007 and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2007
  • Voted YES on requiring negotiated Rx prices for Medicare Part D, voted YES on expanding enrollment period for Medicare Part D, voted YES on increasing Medicaid rebate for producing generics


  • Says shift Medicaid to states, plus inflation, plus 1%; restore $716B in Medicare cuts; give young people a choice of Medicare or private insurer
  • Wants to reform Medicare
  • Supports giving all citizens some form of catastrophic health coverage
  • Says let states create their own private, market-based insurance
  • Supports individual responsibility for health care; subsidies for health coverage for low-income people
  • Pledges to begin repealing Obamacare on first day in office
  • Says ObamaCare has unelected board making health decisions; ObamaCare is too expensive, and has killed jobs
  • Says healthcare should be an issue of each state, not a federal issue
  • Says people without insurance can already receive care via the emergency room
  • Says to base health care system on free choice & private medicine
  • Romney implemented a mandated health insurance program while governor in Massachusetts (Romneycare), but says it was right for the state, but wrong for the country

Some Endorsements for the Two Major Candidates:
Individuals: Fmr. President George H. W. Bush• Fmr. President George W. Bush• Fmr. Vice President Dick Cheney • Fmr. Vice President Dan Quayle • Representative Michele Bachmann • Fmr. Senator Rick Santorum • Senator Orrin Hatch • Senator Tom Coburn • Senator Roy Blunt • Senator John McCain • Senator Olympia Snoew • Fmr. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott • Governor Scott Walker • Governor Tom Corbett • Governor Bobby Jindal • Governor Jan Brewer • Fmr. Governor Mike Huckabee • Fmr. Governor Jeb Bush • Fmr. Governor Sarah Palin • Fmr. Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani • Fmr. President of Poland Lech Wałęsa • Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard • Rupert Murdoch, Founder of News Corporation, Fox Broadcasting Company & HarperCollins • Donald Trump, chairman and president of The Trump Organization • Jim Walton, son of Sam Walton a founder of Wal-Mart • Mary Cheney • Evangelist Jerry Falwell, Jr. • Evangelist Billy Graham • Televangelist Pat Robertson • Scott Baio • Russell Crowe • Shannen Doherty • Clint Eastwood • Julianne Hough • Lindsay Lohan • Chuck Norris • Adam Sandler • Arnold Schwarzenegger • Suzanne Somers • Sylvester Stallone  • Ted Nugent • Donny Osmond • Kid Rock • Gene Simmons • Pat Buchanan • Ann Coulter • Elisabeth Hasselbeck • Rush Limbaugh • Heidi Montag • Jenna Jameson • Dean Koontz

Organizations/Unions: • The Independence Hall Tea Party Association • Log Cabin Republicans • The Memphis Tea Party • National Organization for Marriage • National Right to Life Committee • Life Priority Network • National Rifle Association • Associated Builders and Contractors • Texas Association of Business

Individuals: Former President Jimmy Carter • Former President Bill Clinton • Former Vice President Al Gore • Former Secretary of State Colin Powell • Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright • Sen. Dianne Feinstein • Sen. Barbara Boxer • Sen. Patty Murray • Sen. Robert Byrd • Sen. Majority Whip Dick Durbin • Sen. John Kerry • Sen. Amy Klobuchar • Former Sen. Russ Feingold • Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle • Fmr. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords • Gov. Andrew Cuomo • Gov. Christine Gregoire • Gov. Jerry Brown • Gov. Steve Beshear • Fmr. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago • Former Chairman of the DNC Howard Dean • Wesley Clark, four star General (Ret), former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO • Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy • Chicago Former Mayor Richard M. Daley • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa • Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway • Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook • Berry Gordy, Founder of the Motown record label • Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and CEO • Tommy Hilfiger • Gloria Allred • Lilly Ledbetter • Al Sharpton • Gloria Steinem • Jessica Alba • Elizabeth Banks • Angela Bassett • Jack Black • Don Cheadle • Kristin Chenoweth • George Clooney • Rosario Dawson • Lena Dunham • Jesse Eisenberg • America Ferrera • Jamie Foxx • Alyson Hannigan • Neil Patrick Harris • Samuel L. Jackson • James Earl Jones • Jane Lynch • Gwyneth Paltrow • Mekhi Phifer • George Take • Olivia Wilde • Will Ferrell • Chelsea Handler •  Chris Rock • Judd Apatow • Tyler Perry • Che • Miley Cyrus • Lady Gaga • Alicia Keys • B.B. King • Beyoncé Knowles • Cyndi Lauper • Nicki Minaj • Katy Perry • Pink • Bruce Springsteen • Usher • Stevie Wonder • Ellen DeGeneres • Oprah Winfrey • Stephen King • Maurice Sendak • Gabby Douglas • Michael Jordan

Organizations: AFL-CIO • AFSCME • American Federation of Teachers • International Association of Fire Fighters • International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers • National Education Association • Gay-Straight Alliance • Human Rights Campaign • League of Conservation Voters • National Organization for Women • Planned Parenthood • NARAL Pro-Choice America • Sierra Club • National Education Association • SEIU • American Nurses Association • Communications Workers of America • Environment America • Feminist Majority Political Action Committee • International Brotherhood of Teamsters • United Farm Workers of America • United Steelworkers

Additional sources used:

written 02 Nov 2012 . updated 09 Nov 2012

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