In the last few weeks before the November election, voters are bombarded with campaign ads and claims by both presidential candidates, but just how informed are voters about issues before they head to the polls? The YWCA Metro St. Louis co-sponsored a panel discussion to educate voters on the issues and the candidates before they go to vote.

Professor at St. Louis University Heather Bednarek says the discussion is meant to help voters know the issues and know to make an educated decision when heading to the polls- including issues affecting women and families. “The federal budget is a starting place, in terms of where the federal government is spending their dollars. But then also think about and match that up with three generations…women and family issues and the importance for women and families…so if you think of three generations of women, so you’ve got grandma, the mom and the daughter and think about how the federal budget impacts each of those generations,” she says.

This brings up the issue of funding for contraceptives and government funding for programs such as Planned Parenthood. “This kind of puts it on the radar screen when you talk about issues of funding for contraception, for Planned Parenthood… and that brings up a couple of things, where is that buried in the budget? Because if you use the federal budget as a big frame, there is so much involved in terms of the federal dollars,” she says.

Bednarek says she also wants voters to walk away from the discussion with knowledge about where we are in the economy that could affect us in the next four years, and in the long term. “Where we are in things like the deficit that we’ve racked up and we’re projected to continue to see increasing in the next ten years unless we make some changes. So on one hand you’re concerned about economic growth in the short term and that’s where we hear the discussion about jobs and creating jobs and getting people back to work and making sure that we lower the unemployment rate and put people in a better place economically,” she says. “But then also thinking about growth over the long term and one of the issues there becomes the fact of these government deficits and what they can do,” Bednarek says.

AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:13)