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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6 Responses

  1. Roger October 20, 2009 / 2:29 pm
    I’ve been snarky at you here in the past, but today you are right on! Especially the yard signs. When I see a sign in a neighbor’s yard, I respect that my neighbor is taking a stand, one way or the other. When I see yard signs in vacant lots and street corners, I see a campaign that has money to waste, and the campaign loses my respect.
    My only disagreement is your blanket statement about people who stand outside the polls. If you see Issue 3 folks, you can be sure they are getting paid for their time… but when you see fellow citizens out there for the Metro Parks or the Library Levy, I think it is a pretty safe assumption they are volunteers supporting their community institutions.

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  2. David Esrati October 20, 2009 / 2:38 pm

    @Roger

    Glad we’ve found a little common ground. You do understand that Metro Parks and Libraries have huge numbers of employees and family members who will help support them- besides users.

    I was talking about politicians- who don’t have that type of network typically- unless it comes with strings to unions or the party.

    Issue 3 is a total scam- and has big money.

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  3. David Lauri October 20, 2009 / 2:53 pm
    The thing that gets me about Issue 3 is that I got a mailer about it that talks about keeping money in Ohio and providing jobs for Ohioans but that does not have the word “casino” on it anywhere.
     
    I’m fine with people arguing that Issue 3 is good because it will keep money in Ohio and because it will provide jobs for Ohioans, but it’s sneaky and dirty to encourage people to vote for Issue 3 without saying what it’s really about, which is about allowing for casinos in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo.

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  4. David Esrati October 20, 2009 / 3:24 pm

    @david l.

    Most campaign literature is full of lies- or smoke and mirrors. Very little has substance- or anything substantive for the voter.

    I haven’t seen any real opposition yet to issue 3. Most people are surprised to hear that there is a better casino deal coming next spring.

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  5. David Lauri October 20, 2009 / 5:22 pm
    Most voters are uninformed.  I still remember being online in a gay chat room on 11/1/2004, the day before Ohioans voted to make their gay and lesbian neighbors second class citizens, and discovering, to my amazement, that some of the queers in the room didn’t know what Issue 1 was.  People were going to vote on our right to equal marriage the next day and some queers didn’t have a clue about it.
     
    And I don’t think queers are more apathetic or more ignorant than the population at large.  If anything, given that we face discrimination both de facto and de jure, I would think queers would be better informed than the population at large.
     
    We get the government we deserve.

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  6. Hall October 20, 2009 / 6:23 pm
    “When I see yard signs in vacant lots and street corners, I see a campaign that has money to waste, and the campaign loses my respect.”
    I always thought it was a case of giving a campaign worker “x” number of signs to get rid of and they take the easy way out and stick ’em at intersections or on vacant lots. FWIW, both mayoral candidates are guilty of this this year too.

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