FLORENCE GILKESON: Indecisives: No Excuse for Not Knowing Whom to Vote For
The smartest people don't tell you their presidential choice.
Friends and family may know whether they will vote for the Republican or the Democrat, or maybe if they may vote for the Libertarian. Otherwise, they keep their mouths sealed.
It is the so-called "undecided" voter that intrigues me these days. I wonder where all these undecided people are found. In the case of the second presidential debate, the audience on the campus of Belmont University in Tennessee supposedly was made up entirely of undecided voters. An undecided voter, I assume, is a voter who plans to vote but has not made up his or her mind for Democrat Barack Obama, Republican John McCain, or Libertarian Bob Barr.
CBS gathered a group of undecideds for a follow-up interview after that second debate. For the most part, the folks registered as Democrats were leaning toward Obama, and those registered as Republicans were leaning toward McCain. The others were still undecided.
In similar fashion, I am suspicious of the most vocal undecideds. If one were really anxious to gain a seat in that audience in Nashville, it would be easy to indicate indecision. Who wouldn't enjoy an opportunity to see and hear up close, maybe even to meet, the next president of the United States? And especially in a quiet, controlled environment.
My patience has worn thin with people who can't make up their minds before the election. Their queries, usually in the form of complaints, come frequently to newspaper offices. They want to know how to learn more about the candidates, whether local or state.
Well, the information is out there; just examine it. The State Board of Elections recently mailed out a booklet containing information about judicial candidates and statewide candidates participating in the state public financing program. A Voters Guide prepared by the League of Women Voters was tucked into the Sunday edition of The Pilot. It contains information about local candidates.
Not all candidates respond when asked to participate in forums and voter guides. League members follow up on unresponsive candidates. I know personally how difficult it is to track down some candidates. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is deliberate on the part of a limited number of candidates. Judge for yourselves.
Candidates' forums have been held for the public in general and for certain special groups. Even those sponsored by special interests are usually open to the public.
Almost all candidates have a Web site, and it is easy to access simply by typing their names into Google or Yahoo. OK, so you don't have a computer. There's one available at the public library, and personnel are willing to help you figure out how to use it.
Computers are available for public use at the main library and all branches of the Moore County Public Library. A spokesperson in the main library tells me anyone can use a computer there and a library card is not required. However, the user must submit identification and must fill out a card attesting to willingess to abide by library Internet standards and ethics. It's always busy at the library, and you may have to wait for a staff member to become free to help if you are unfamiliar with computers and/or the Internet. But they are cheerful and helpful.
Occasionally, the computer is "down." You may have to come back when it's "up." Anyone who works with computers will tell you about their sometimes whimsical nature.
I checked out several candidates for public office by clicking on Google and Yahoo and typing in their names. Their Web sites often gave me far more information than I needed or wanted.
As for the presidency, I can't imagine anyone who doesn't know all that's needed about McCain or Obama. Reports on their speeches and campaigns are all over newspapers and magazines, are the subject of endless e-mail drivel, and of course there have been debates.
I work for an advertising medium, so I'm not about to discourage anyone from paying attention to ads. But steer clear of those that bash the opponent and go light on details about the goals of the sponsors' candidate. Calling attention to your opponent's flaws is just a way of deflecting attention from your own.
Thus ends my advice on voting. Don't call me for advice on how to vote. I don't do that, or windows.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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