Voter information: Good intentions, poor results

Well, it's a start. - promoted by david

What a great idea! A web application to help me educate myself and become a better informed voter!
Would that it actually worked.

Front page on today’s Boston.com is an interactive voter guide. Clicking on the link, filling out my address, the Globe shows me a google map to visually confirm my residence (nice touch) and lists for me all the districts in whose races I will be voting. A quick check on which party ballot I will pull and off I go!
Senate: Elizabeth Warren. Bio (not sure why “Family” is more prominent than “Experience” or “Education”, but that’s ticky-tack.) Lots of links to her site and feeds and social media persona. OK. I guess they figure I know enough about the Senate race so as not to include any actual information to help me decide how to vote here.

Congress: William Keating and Samuel Sutter. Bios: blank. Question 1: The candidate has not yet responded to this question. Grumble. Questions 2, 3, 4, infinity: The candidate has not yet responded to this question. The candidate has not yet responded to this question. The candidate has not yet responded to this question. The candidate has not yet responded to this question. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Governor’s Council: Nicholas Bernier, Oliver Cippolini, Jr., Walter Moniz. Bios: Hey, Cippolini answered the questionnaire… Bernier and Moniz, not so much. Thank you, Mr, Cippolini.

State Senate: Marc Pacheco. The candidate has not yet responded to this question.

State Rep: Adam Bond and Roger Brunelle. zip. zilch.

Clerk of Courts: Robert Creedon. Hello? Hello?

Register of Deeds: John Buckley. Answers! Thanks for restoring some faith in humanity.

County Commissioner: Greg Hanley. crickets.

Well, I live waaaaay out in the boonies of southeastern Mass, so maybe it’s just that the Globe’s efforts didn’t reach this far south. So I looked at an address in Brockton, where I have other interests.

Warren.
Congress: Stephen Lynch. The candidate has not yet responded to this question.
Governor’s Council: Stephen Flynn, Christopher Iannella, Jr. Well one out of two is pretty good at this point, thank you Mr. Flynn.
State Senate: Thomas Kennedy. empty
State Rep: Claire Cronin, Mark Linde, Jass Stewart, Robert Sullivan. One for four (Linde).
finish out with Creedon, Buckley and Hanley.

I would’ve thought that more people in Brockton get the Globe….

One more, Hyde Park, an actual neighborhood of Boston. 15 more candidates, 8 actual responses. Wow, that’s more than 50%.

Back to my own ballot, I learned little more from this exercise than I would have learned by getting the sample ballot though the SecState’s elections division. In fact, I was so annoyed by the lack of responses that I didn’t even bother to read any of the responses that were there. The candidate has not yet responded to this question… I guess the reader has not yet responded to this question either. So much for voter education.

Now I understand that there are two parties in the equation, the Globe–perhaps the leading disseminator of local information in the commonwealth–and the candidates. Candidates farther from Boston seemed to pay less attention to this request, shame on them. But even batting just over .500 in Boston is pretty poor. How bad was the Globe’s request? When was it sent? How much do they market their power to candidates?

Beyond that, why can’t the Globe do actual research when responses are not provided? I bet that over 90% of candidates have an easily accessible website or Facebook page. Can we link to those? Could we read those and list some biographical information? Not saying that the Globe staff might actually have to read information and note positions or actually compare and contrast candidates, but at least grab the low-hanging fruit. Jimmy, the intern at Liberty Square Group did that AND built the website (I think Jimmy needed a lot more help in user interface design, but that’s not the issue here.) Jimmy did it… Globe, where are you?

And speaking of invisibility, where is the state Democratic Party? Why can’t this organization use its resources to educate its voters (its membership) in areas such as this? I know we have a big Senate race and much attention is focused on Elizabeth Warren, but there’s more to a party and a delegation and government that just one race.

In the end, with 24-hour news and the instantaneous gratification and micro-personalization of Web 2.0, we the voters are still left to local newspapers, dear friend cards, and handshakes in front of the local coffee shop to find out what we need to know about our candidates. No wonder we stay away in droves.

Thanks for the offer of printing out my ballot, Globe interactive voter guide. I’ll save the paper.



Discuss

3 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Don't do this at home

    Speaking of poor interfaces, make sure you clear your cookies before entering a second address to check. The app intersperses the new address’ candidates into the existing list rather than replacing the entire list. Oh well.

  2. Speaking as a resident well within the Globe's umbrella

    I don’t want the Globe researching the candidate’s answers and filling them in the page. In my area, the Globe is the newspaper of record. If a candidate can’t be bothered replying to the freaking Boston Globe, well I’m glad to know that.

    What I would like is a little fact checking *after* the candidate responds. Does the candidate’s response to the questionnaire jibe with his or her website? Major votes or policy positions? Statements? I don’t expect a POTUS level vetting, but some would be nice.

    And frankly, with respect to non-opposed state rep and senate candidates, this is where leadership should put the major squeeze on the unopposed candidates to fill out the questionnaire anyway. Build in some flexibility in the answers to be sure, but not answering the question makes the Dems look complacent and underscores the narrative that they’re elected because they’re Dems in name, not because they’ve earned it with their positions, their hard work, and their votes.

  3. Thank you Adam Bond

    Adam Bond, candidate for State Rep 12th Bristol District (Middleborough, Lakeville, Taunton, Berkley) has responded.

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Mon 28 Jul 12:12 AM