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EDITORIAL: Preparing for vote will make it count: Educate yourself before election

October 27, 2008

Preparing for vote will make it count Educate yourself before election Barring a repeat of the 2000 presidential election debacle that took more than a month to sort out, we are a little over a week away from finding out who will become our country's next commander in chief. Although IBJ has a policy of not endorsing candidates, we do have some other recommendations as central Indiana heads into the homestretch of this hotly contested race. For weeks, political pundits nationwide have been focused on Indiana-a "red" state even when Democrats lived in the governor's mansion-as one of the surprises of this year's election season. Indiana? Too close to call within a month of the election? Really? Yes, really. Now let's not screw it up. Thankfully, Indiana voters don't mark their ballots with pointy sticks, as Florida's electorate did during the infamous "hanging chad" scandal of 2000, but opportunities for missteps still exist. Polling places could open late or run out of ballots. Voters might show up in the wrong place or forget to bring their photo IDs.

Or worse yet-they could get in the booth and draw a complete blank when they realize that, in addition to choosing a president and governor, they have to pick a superintendent of public instruction and someone to sit on their township board. Some of them even will have to weigh in on government consolidation and Indianapolis Public Schools' $278 million capital improvement plan.

So here's our advice to election officials and the electorate alike: Prepare.

County clerks should prep for Nov. 4 like it's the most important day in their careers. It just might be, with voter turnout expected to crush records. Line up poll workers and backup poll workers and backups for the backups. Have enough ballots on hand to accommodate even the most optimistic projections. And have the required controls in place to make sure there's no question about the integrity of the votes.

Voters, you have your work cut out for you, too. Before casting your ballot-whether you wait for Election Day or join the throngs taking advantage of early voting-make sure you know whom you're electing. Sure, we've been bombarded by campaign advertising for months. But here's a news flash: Candidates are in it to win it, not to make sure you have all the information you need.

And we'd be willing to bet the cost of a 30-second prime-time commercial that most voters have never even heard of many of the candidates in down-ballot races like county surveyor or township board. If you don't recognize someone's name, regardless of his or her party, do you really want to vote for that person?

As Thomas Jefferson once said, only people who are well-informed can be trusted with their own government. Simply going to the polls isn't enough. Take your responsibility seriously. Prepare.

Oh, and a word to the wise: Don't wait until that day to stock up for your Election Night bash. In Indiana, when the polls are open, liquor stores are closed.



To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.
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