Opinion: Don’t randomly select, be an informed voter

The importance of being prepared when you hit the ballot box

By Michael Brock, Editor in Chief

With the Nov. 6 midterm elections less than two weeks away, time is ticking for voters to make some tough decisions.

To help with this, a “voter’s pamphlet” was mailed to every Washington residence last week detailing the races and initiatives on the ballot for their area. The election guide sent to Spokane County residents has a breakdown of 19 races and four initiatives, in addition to county elections department contact information and basic voting guidelines.

It is truly an invaluable tool for voters to learn what each candidate (or initiative) stands for. Political jargon can get confusing, and without doing proper research, voters may fill in bubbles without a second thought on Election Day.

However, I encourage voters to be informed about who or what they are choosing, instead of simply voting based on party affiliation or by random.

Because in this election cycle, there is real change to be made. And people are taking notice.

On Sept. 26, National Voter Registration Day, more than 800,000 people registered to vote, a new record for the annual event which began in 2012. This leapfrogs the previous high of 771,321 registered in 2016 and dwarfs the 154,500 people who signed up in 2014.

Traditionally, midterm elections see a considerable dip in voting numbers from presidential election years. In 2014, just 36.4 percent of eligible voters turned out (83.2 million), the lowest percentage in a midterm since World War II. But based on the outpour of people registering, this year should see a spike in ballots tallied.

With the increase in voters, it is even more important for people to be informed. And there are many ways to do so.

In addition to the voter’s guide, news publications around the state have been following election season closely. There are countless breakdowns of where candidates stand on certain issues and what they strive to do if elected to office. Some publications even release their own election manuals to help guide their readers.

In fact, The Easterner will have its own voter’s guide as an insert in next week’s issue. The Easterner’s guide will have information pertaining to four races and two initiatives.

The races that will be covered include: Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers versus Democrat Lisa Brown for U.S. representative in District 5, Republican Jeff Holy versus Democrat Jessa Lewis for state senator in District 6, Republican Mike Volz versus Democrat Kay Murano  for state representative in District 6 and Democrat Dave Wilson versus Republican Jenny Graham for state representative in District 6.

Our guide will also have information on Initiative No. 1631 (which concerns pollution) and Initiative No. 1634 (grocery tax).

Whether it’s from the state’s voter guide, The Easterner or another publication, I urge voters to do their homework before stepping into the ballot box. Because a real difference can be made in these midterms, no matter your political affiliation.

And it would be a shame to take the time to actually vote, but do so uninformed.