Thursday, October 21, 2010
If you're a United States citizen, I hope you're planning to vote in the Nov. 2 elections. But are you getting totally swamped with election mailers, phone calls, and radio and TV ads?
Over the years, I've found a way that works for me to manage the election information. I ignore all of the items listed above; the mailers go into recycling, the phone calls are hung up on (politely, if it's a real person calling), and I change channels if an ad comes on the radio.
And honestly, I rarely read all the gory detail in the official voter guide. (In California this time, we have 10 state-wide propositions, as well as the local ballot measures, and all the candidates. Reading everything in detail just isn't how I want to spend my time.)
But I do want to be an informed voter. In reaching that goal, I've found these two resources help me the most:
1. Reasoned editorials
I don't want a clip-and-save list of who and what to vote for. Rather, I want to read why certain people and positions are being recommended. For state-wide issues, I tend to start with three newspapers, which don't always agree: The San Francisco Bay Guardian, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Sacramento Bee. By the time I've read their opinions, I usually have a good grasp of the issues, and can see where I might want to read more.
For local issues, I have a different list of sources. And if you follow my approach, your choice will differ from mine, being dependent on where you live and which editorial sources you find helpful.
Here I can see position papers, biographical information, endorsement lists - and links to candidates' web sites. Sometimes what you read still comes across as sound bites, but often there's really useful information, too. And if a candidate chooses not to supply information to this nationwide non-partisan site managed by the League of Women Voters, that tells you something, too.
And after I've done my reading, having a discussion with friends who are also deciding how to vote can be very useful, too.
How do you wade through the election material clutter?