Pharos-Tribune

October 21, 2012

Helping the voters to decide

by Kelly Hawes

— A recent skit on Saturday Night Live poked fun at the undecided voter.

It offered examples of the sorts of questions an undecided voter might be asking just weeks before the election. Questions like: “Who exactly is running for president of the United States?” And, “What does a president actually do?”

The idea, of course, is that it’s not easy to be an undecided voter at this stage in the presidential campaign.

Barack Obama has been president for almost four years now, and the race to choose his successor started almost as soon as he took office. Those who are still wavering between Obama and Mitt Romney can’t exactly have been paying close attention to the news over the past four years.

That might not be the case, though, for other races on next month’s ballot.

Mike Pence and John Gregg have been running for governor for more than a year now, but the wall-to-wall campaign commercials began only in the last few weeks. And the U.S. Senate campaign, though it’s been under way in some respects since last spring, has really caught fire only recently.

Thus, it might be more understandable that a few voters are still weighing their options in those two contests.

Further down the ballot, the choices might be even less clear.

We’ll do our best to help voters to make an informed decision.

Last week, we offered the candidates for county commissioner, county council, coroner and Circuit Court judge a chance to make their cases to the voters in their own words. Today, we’re offering that same opportunity to the candidates for Pioneer and Southeastern school boards.

Also today, you’ll see stories about the races for U.S. Senate and superintendent of public instruction. Starting Monday, we’ll offer a series of stories providing an in-depth look at the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. Next week, we’ll take a look at the judges whose names appear on the ballot for retention.

At the same time, we invite readers to weigh in.

We’ve been printing letters from folks offering their recommendations on the candidates in various races.

Some have taken sides in the presidential election. Others have offered their thoughts on candidates seeking state and local offices.

We’ll continue to print those viewpoints right up to the Sunday before the election, and we encourage voters on all sides to make their voices heard.

Don’t dawdle, though. The deadline for submitting election letters is 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1.

Just to be clear, though, we’ll be pretty selective about letters we print in the final days before the election.

Sometimes, folks get the idea that the best way to help their candidate is to toss a stink bomb at the last possible second. They find some explosive issue that voters just have to know about, and they think it’s our job to throw it out there too late for the other side to have a chance to react.

We won’t go along with that.

If you have some killer issue you think the voters need to hear about, now is the time to raise it. We’re happy to allow you to raise new issues as long as you give the opponent a reasonable opportunity to respond. If you don’t, that killer letter just might not see the light of day.

• Kelly Hawes is managing editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5155 or kelly.hawes@pharostribune.com.