2 weeks and counting: thoughts about elections

In two weeks we’ll be going to the polls. This is when the gloves slip off and everyone jumps into the mud pit.

My own personal observations- if you see a yard sign, here are some things to think about:

  • They are expensive – so if you see more than one in a single lot, someone has money to burn.
  • The more colors on a yard sign, the more expensive. Just saw a ton of Issue 3 signs- and, they are at least 3 color.
  • They aren’t supposed to be in public rights of way- such as highway medians or intersections – only on private lots.
  • Yard signs typically don’t say anything- the ultimate soundbite politics. They depress me, yet seem so essential.

Robocalls will start. If there is one thing I hate, it’s having an answering machine call me. The more calls you get from machines, the more you should wonder. Robocalling is one of the cheapest ways to reach voters if you can’t collect e-mail addresses. There are companies that sell you out for as low as 2¢ a call. I’m sorry you will have your dinners interrupted.

One step above robocalling is phone banks. Telemarketing. Also annoying, but remember, there is a real live person on the other end of that line. The key is, are they doing it because they believe, or because they are getting paid. Be nice to them, even if they are catching you indisposed- you don’t have to listen, but you still should try to be human.

TV and radio will start to get full of stupidity. Issue 3 will be on the air non-stop, spending millions to get that sweetheart casino deal passed. Don’t fall for it- it’s handing over the keys to one ownership group with no competition. I’m fine with casinos, if it’s an open bidding process. This isn’t. Next spring we may get a shot at a real casino deal. Please wait. Casinos aren’t going to solve any budget problems overnight, nor are they without their own problems- but, this isn’t the right one to vote yes on.

Your mailbox will be full of campaign mailings. If they aren’t 4 color glossy these days- on good thick stock, someone is a fool. Printing costs have dropped. If they have “I was born here, I went to school here, I have a (spouse, kids, grandkids, dog)” you should ignore it totally- as if they had anything to do with where they were born here- or that breeding is a qualification for office. Slate cards will arrive- these tell you to ignore options- buy the package deal, all of the above, it’s a wonder we haven’t put this button on the automatic voting machines to make it easier for the voters that the Democratic party is always accused of paying to vote at every election (I don’t believe it- but, people keep telling me it happens).

Literature will be dropped at your door on the eve of the election, telling you to vote one way or another. The really wealthy campaigns will pay people to stand outside polling places handing out literature. If only we would make as much effort to provide real voters’ guides- with more than 200 words per candidate? What kind of election would we have?

And for all this work, turnout can be incredibly low. In 1999 when I ran in a 2-seat cycle (no mayoral seat) only 17% of the voters turned out. In the mayoral years, it’s higher, but, still less than 30%. I think this is the thing that depresses me more than anything, since our percentage of registered voters in this country is incredibly low to begin with, compared to other industrialized countries.

Win or lose, at least, Gary Leitzel and I have given voters a choice. You may not like  any of the candidates, but until we change something (either the process or the people) we’re all you’ve got.

If there is one indicator that gives me more insight than anything else in looking at where to place my vote, the old reporters’ adage “follow the money” is always a great way to make an informed decision. Do the people who give the money to the candidates seem like you? Or, are they the establishment? I’ll be posting the pre-election campaign finance reports as soon as possible after the 22nd turn-in.

How do you pick whom you want to vote for? What are your key issues and how do you research them? I’d love to hear them.

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