Informed voting is as important as ever in 2011
by Franklin Clark, Reporter --
Nov 02, 2011 | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The election is almost here, and one of the things I like most about that is that the TV attack ads will cease and the yard signs will be taken down.At least for a few months, until the Presidential campaign season starts up. Like Christmas, it seems to come sooner every time.

But although the turnout is predicted to be fairly low, the races up for grabs next or just as important, or perhaps more important, than the Presidential race. But there will be local positions up for vote next year, so that election will be important as well.

Really, it’s important to vote in every election, and more than that, it’s important to know who you’re voting for and why. But none of that is more important than being skeptical of what comes out of the mouths of politicians - Democrat, Republican or independent.

But my main point was on informed voting. The information is out there, and groups like Project Vote Smart ask polticians and candidates their positions on the issues, and also give more publicity to their voting records.

Also available are a number of fact-checking sites, such as, and PolitiFact, both of which check the accuracy of statements on the part of politicians, candidates, pundits and others that are a part of the public discourse (Snopes does a similar job, but doesn’t deal solely in politics). While their accuracy and non-partisan nature is often challenged, they do at least cite their sources, at least seem to do some research and on occasion they will admit when they’re wrong, which is more than can be said for a source that a significant number of voters likely get their information from: the e-mail forward.

I’m specifically talking about the ones that speak of the latest political outrage or conspiracy theory, the ones that at least appear to be designed to stimulate the same part of your brain responsible for road rage.

One of my “favourite” forwards was one that I received as a teenager. It warned that the atheists were going to take away Christian programming on TV, all because of an atheist activist that had long been dead by time it reached my inbox. Obviously that one has not come to pass.

Point being, the often anonymous nature of these forwards means no one gets the blame when they’re wrong, and in many cases people trust them implicitly because they were forwarded by people they know.

Now, they’re not always wrong, not by a long-shot, and being skeptical of claims, political and otherwise, means judging them based on the facts.

Point being, blind trust and blind cynicism aren’t particularly helpful if the point is for people to know why they vote. I know that people don’t always have time to weigh every claim carefully, but skepticism of these statements is more or less a good attitude, especially when you realise that many politicians and pundits are not on your side.

Franklin Clark is a reporter for the Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at
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