Making an Informed Decision About 210 Candidates

How on Earth do we make an informed decision about 210 candidates?

In case you haven’t heard, there’s an election next month.  I don’t know how you could miss it since we are being bombarded with television and radio ads, mailers, emails, and now even unsolicited text messages.

What you may not know, is that there’s probably a lot more on your ballot than what those folks in the ads are talking about.  Here in Texas, where judges are elected, you may have multiple races for courts of law, county commissioners, school board trustees, and tax-payer funded bond proposals.

The Harris County (Houston-area) ballot is, I’m told, the longest in the nation.  In preparation for voting, I printed my sample ballot for review, and I count a total of 93, that’s ninety-three, different contests.

I take my responsibilities as a U.S. citizen seriously, and always try to learn as much as I can before heading to the polls.  But how does one really dig down into the details of 93 different contests?

One method is to consult some of the many available voter guides.  Of course, such guides are inherently biased, and sometimes oriented to a single issue.  Even if the provider claims to be neutral and non-partisan, there will be discernible bias.  A smart voter must make sure he/she understands what each group values in candidates.

A well-meaning and intelligent friend suggests that rather than rely on voter guides or “straight ticket” votes, each citizen should do his or her own research.

Which brings me back to that Harris County ballot; dispersed among the 93 contests are some 210 candidates.  How on Earth does the average citizen, perhaps one with a full-time job and a family, have time to research 210 different candidates?

While I’m not as politically involved as I have been in the past, I think I’m more informed than average, and I find this ballot daunting.  I attended a few meet-and-greet events earlier this year, but candidates far outnumbered non-candidates in attendance, and each candidate only had 2 minutes to speak.

Even worse may be what’s not on this ballot; there are numerous other boards consisting of both elected and appointed officials that have jurisdiction over myself, my family, and my property.  These boards are not necessarily required to hold elections at the biennial general election.  I’ve spent hours trying to track down even the most basic information about the governance structure of the ten different entities taxing my home with very little success.

Continue reading at HollyHansen.

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