Voting is the cornerstone of participatory democracy, and few rituals are as inherently private. An axiom of casual conversation is always to sidestep the gubernatorial race and presidential politics. Fine people will vote the wrong way, we tell ourselves. And some not-so-fine people will vote the right way. For pundits, the variable is knowledge.
A “low-information” voter is the term du jour for folks who champion causes and vote for candidates with a minimal understanding of the public-policy impact. It’s a patronizing term since we’re all subject to low information. Who has time to dig into issue briefs and ask 20 questions? For Republicans and Democrats alike, it’s the touchstone for the post-election hangover: Americans are sensible, but they simply don’t know what’s good for them.
The Herald editorial board is just one voice, ideally a reliable if subjective one, among the racket of political commercials and special-interest mailers. Politicians, organizations, companies, labor unions, newspapers, and churches all attempt to influence voters. The Herald editorial board presents its judgment based on research and candidate interviews. However, it’s a recommendation, freighted with the baggage and experience of any group of professionals. Readers are encouraged to consider and/or disagree with the board’s suggestions (and express those disagreements in letters to the editor.) The Herald’s obligation is to communicate a cogent argument, outlining why a specific candidate or initiative merits voter support.
The editorial board consists of publisher David Dadisman, assistant to the editor, Kim Heltne, editorial writer, Carol MacPherson, and editorial-page editor, Peter Jackson. Editorial decisions are based on consensus, with the publisher, as grand poobah, given the final word.
The Herald will publish its first recommendation on Sept. 16 and will continue with candidate editorials through mid-October. Recommendations will include president of the United States, governor, the Legislature, state initiatives, and as many other races as feasible (the editorial board presupposes that President Obama and Gov. Romney are unlikely to attend a candidate interview, but they’re always welcome to stop by Everett to chat.) A few critical dates to keep in mind: Oct. 8 is the last day for Washington voters to register by mail or online. Ballots for the Nov. 6 General Election will be mailed on Oct. 19 (ballots for the military and overseas voters will be mailed Sept. 22.)
Lastly, voters are encouraged to hold on to their ballots as long as possible (apologies for compounding the workload of Snohomish County’s respected auditor, Carolyn Weikel.) Candidates evolve or backpedal, rise to the occasion, or crumble under the klieg lights. Patience with the election cycle, like voting itself, is a virtue.