Press-Republican

October 20, 2012

In My Opinion: Become informed on candidates

By BETSY METz & BETTY ANN KING
Press-Republican

---- — The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization dedicated to providing factual information to help voters make informed decisions on Election Day.

Our country is founded on the principles that every citizen is included in our democracy. Voters make decisions. Through voting, we the people control our country and our destiny.

Our democracy is being challenged by unprecedented attacks on voters’ rights. Some states are implementing increasingly restrictive voter ID requirements, reduced voter registration hours and imposed high penalties if voter registration forms are not returned within 24 hours.

A flood of campaign advertising has resulted from the explosion of special-interest money from third-party, outside groups. These groups are often run by former staff of candidates or parties. The ads typically contain a higher level of attacks on candidates, as well as greater inaccuracy in statements.

We are concerned that this current environment — so filled with toxic charges, contradictory statements and deceptive practices — leaves voters so confused and disgusted that at a minimum, they can’t make their own best decisions and, at worst, they may decide not to vote at all.

The league is working to reverse this trend by promoting truth in campaign advertising. We encourage newspaper and community support of fact-checked TV ads that are sponsored by third-party, outside groups.

Election information is posted on the following non-partisan websites that provide where to vote, what candidates are on the ballot in your district and what some of their positions are on major issues: Vote411.org, www.plattsburgh.ny.lwvnet.org, www.lwvny.org and www.lwvny.org (links to New York State Legislature, our representatives, legislation/bills).

Candidate and media websites are also a source of information.

Fact checking of candidate’s information can be found on www.flackcheck.org, sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Local television stations and newspapers remain the source of most Americans’ news and information. The League knows voters desperately want genuine, factual information to help them make their own best decisions on Election Day.

Broadcast media also provide debates and forums. Print media publishes candidate interviews. Check Mountain Lake and WPTZ websites for televised candidate debates.

In addition to the erosion of voters’ rights, as exemplified by the current crusade in some states to disenfranchise voters, another threat to our democracy is the increased lack of participation at the polls. With the availability of non-partisan factual information, voters can make informed decisions.

The efforts of our men and women in uniform and all the patriots who have fought so valiantly to give us these rights and freedoms can not be abandoned.

Voters must exercise their personal responsibility at the polls not only for themselves but also for future generations. Our very democracy depends on it.

Betsy Metz and Betty Ann King are co-chairpersons of Voter Service Committee, League of Women Voters.