November 6th is the deadline to turn in your ballot. It’s critical that YOU vote; our democracy depends on it. More importantly, democracy depends on informed voters. Now, I’m sure my Democratic colleagues are not going to like this, but don’t vote straight party line. I’ve been in the legislature for 10 years, and I can tell you no single party has a lock on talent. There are good individuals in both parties. If you’re a Democrat, look for at least a couple of Republicans to vote for, and vice versa. The reason I believe this is important is that we get better decisions when there’s rigorous debate. Now granted, there’s a big difference between rigorous debate and gridlock, but when one party dominates, group think takes over and the decisions being made are seldom in the best interest of the all the citizens.
A lot of folks tell me they don’t vote because they don’t know the candidates. Turn off your TV and spend an hour or so doing some research. Again, the (R) or the (D) behind a candidate’s name is not research. The sad truth of campaigns these days is that there’s lot of misinformation going around. Negative campaigning seems to dominate, because no matter how much we say we hate it, it works. Very few positive messages change voter’s minds, creating doubt does. I remember in my last election when the Republican State party ran ads against me saying I was a dirty, no good dog because I voted against an issue, when in fact I voted with the Republicans on that issue. The truth didn’t seem to matter, and both sides do it. Now so you can do some myth busting, here are a couple of interesting websites I use to try to figure out what’s true or not:
FactCheck.org. Operated by the University of Pennsylvania, it provides careful analysis of claims made by politicians and other newsmakers at the national level.
Snopes.com. Debunks all sorts of myths, including those spread by viral email.
WashingtonPost.com/blogs/fact-checker. Written by veteran Post columnist Glenn Kessler, hands out “Pinocchios” awards for political falsehoods. It’s national in scope.
PolitiFact.com. Linked to 11 affiliated state fact-checking organizations, this nationally oriented sleuth won a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for its “Truth-O-Meter” ratings of politician’s claims.
UrbanLegends.com. New York Times website debunks political and other misleading claims.
VoteSmart.org. Features an interactive website where you enter your address and the issues most important to you and it responds with an array of the candidates for national office you are eligible to vote for. It displays the candidate’s pictures, the larger the picture, the closer that candidate’s positions are to your own.