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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Voter education -- is it worth the effort?

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Author Topic: Voter education -- is it worth the effort?
dyany
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I have to preface this with the fact that I live in Idaho, a state notorious for straight-ticket voting, so my frustrations and perspectives may be a little biased.

I am thinking of starting a 'Voter Education' not-for-profit company. I haven't done a heck of a lot of research on this, but I am trying to decide if it's even worth the effort.
Every time elections roll around, I find myself searching in vain for thorough, unbiased, complete information on the candidates and issues coming up for a vote, and find an appalling lack of information. Pretty much one of the most important things we can do in our country is cast an EDUCATED vote, yet in a day and age when you can easily and readily get info on the uses of plastic wrap to the Nth degree, it is like finding hen's teeth to get good information on just the issues we're to be voting on. What kind of morons think that we can make good decisions based on ridiculously biased ads and how many times you see a candidates name on a red,white, and blue street-side placard? I mean, COME ON! Not only do they treat us like complete idiots, but we take it and we don't even complain! Grr!
<deep breaths>
So what I was thinking was I would put together a website, funded by (non-political) donations, with complete voting information. Links to relevant websites. Automatic sign-ups for reminder e-mails when an election is coming up. Interviews with candidates, covering all issues. Voting histories for current representatives. How to register, and how to figure out what district you are in. Definitions of political positions and what they can do. Links to current representatives. Plus a quarterly print version of the most relevant information for those citizens not web-enabled. Etc. Etc. But being ridiculously cynical re: the stupidity of the lay person, I wonder if it is even worth the effort. You Americans out there -- what do you think?

Dyany


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Dan Allen
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They don't have the info up anymore, but we have a local talk radio station that has posted a lot of the same type information that you're talking about for the last couple of elections. http://207.230.156.144/main.html
They are particularly useful for the local propositions (14 this election cycle!)

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dyany
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Well, I can see an already-established company...particularly any journalistic outlet...doing such a thing on the side. But did it make a difference? It wouldn't matter to them as much if it didn't, because that's not what they are there for. So, is it worth the effort on its own? And more, er, existentially I guess, are the American voters too far gone in their willful ignorance to be redeemable?

Dy


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Dan Allen
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That's really hard to determine, since nobody has asked that question of the voters. It appears to have had an affect, since votes on a couple of the propositions went against the louder voices of their proponents. Also, I don't really think it's possible to determine if individual voters have been willfully ignorant in their choice, or if they are truly morally bankrupt.

In a lot of ways, I think that your idea could be very helpful, but initial implementation would be a bear. The voters would have to be trained to even remember that you're there. Maybe a 'coalition' type organization between several news outlets would be the best bet. The expected survival of your company during the dead periods between election cycles would probably play a large part in whether or not individual voters would even start to look to you for answers.


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LetterRip
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Rather than start a new thread, I figured I'd add to this one...

On the ballot in Alaska, this year, we had a proposition to move the Alaska legislature from Juneau to the Matinuska Valley.
http://www.akrepublicans.org/22ndleg/info/opedphillips111292001.shtml

It makes excellent sense, in that it would certainly cost less, and individuals would have greater access to the representatives, etc.

However, it was voted down by a substantial majority.

The reason? There was a single advertisment throughout the past couple of months. It said nothing substantial, but put forth some vague doubts about the effects of moving the legislature.

The fact that this advertisment had such substantial impact to influence a negative vote on a issue with such obvious advantages is quite depressing to me.

It gives a great deal of substantiation to concerns that the voting public doesn't give even cursory critical thought to many issues and can be easily swayed by simple minded advertising.

Ah, well. It just bummed me out, as it were, for in this case, the advantages for moving were fairly clear, the disadvantages were minimal, and the issue was rather clear.

For most issues, things are much muddier and the issue requires much critical though and consideration, and so if a rational choice cannot be made in something so simple, what hope do we have that the publics choices are rational on important issues.

LetterRip


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Puretext
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I think people may vote for things out of tradition more than you might expect. Why is the capital of New York in Albany? Advertising notwithstanding, It would probably take a major problem with the current location to move the legislature to a better one.
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