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Be Informed On Issue Before Election Day

In Local News on October 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

With Election Day fast approaching, it’s important that voters make informed decisions before going to their polling place. So much is going on in the world right now, from unemployment to immigration issues, people can become blind-sided by their emotions and fear of things getting worse.

Around the country, financially strapped school districts struggle to pass operating levies in areas where property values are the lowest in many years and income levels have plummeted. Asking local homeowners to hand over even more money through increased property and income taxes is going to be a hard sell, particularly when the quality of the schools has seen little improvement.

At the state level, Issue 2, the effort to repeal Ohio Senate Bill 5, seems to get more advertising airtime than the average car dealership. It’s incredible how much money is being spent to promote both sides of this issue. Unfortunately, all most people know about SB 5 is the rhetoric being spouted from either side. But that’s certainly no revelation.

For most voters, many of the decisions made on their final ballot are arrived at while they’re standing in the booth on Election Day. Rare is the informed voter and nothing could be more dangerous to a free society. Most people will make their choices based on emotional connection and religious connotations of each issue combined with what little they’ve learned from political advertising.

Campaign ads, whether for a candidate or an issue, are designed to sway you to one choice over another, generally by one of two methods – through direct attack or by provoking a particular emotional reaction, usually fear.

Political candidates often use attack ads, where one side attempts to directly discredit the other. The idea here is just to lay out a list of faults so that the advertising candidate looks better than the opposition.

Issue ads tend to use fear or guilt to persuade voters to their side. Advertisers show how an issue might affect children, the elderly or the voter’s security and pocketbook. A fear of loss or insecurity or the guilt that might be felt by the “haves” over the “have nots”

Ads currently running in favor of Ohio Issue 2, for example, have made wide use of a teary-eyed grandmother. Deliberately made up to look disheveled and worn down, the woman sadly describes how her granddaughter would have certainly perished in a house fire if collective bargaining had not been an option to firefighters.

The connection is a stretch, to say the least, but that’s the idea. Use big, sad eyes and a long, sad story – fear and guilt, all in one message, regardless of the facts involved.

On the other hand, there are also people who will just vote for the opposite of whatever happens to be the current standard. If they don’t like how things are going in the economy or politics in general, they might just vote for anyone who is not currently serving in congress. The mentality here is, “Well, they’re not doing anything about it, maybe this new guy will.”

Amidst all the debate over high-profile issues and candidates, some items on the Ohio ballot are getting virtually no attention. Issue 3, for example, is an effort to pass a state constitutional amendment to essentially circumvent the effects of President Obama’s healthcare law. In short, Issue 3 states that, if passed, Ohio’s constitution would protect citizens from being forced into a healthcare program they don’t want.

It would seem like a government-mandated health insurance issue would be of more interest and affect a greater number of people than would the collective bargaining issues of SB 5. But, most people don’t even know this issue is on the ballot.

Detailed information on all state issues is available on the website of the Ohio Secretary of State, Jon Husted – http://www.sos.state.oh.us. Just click on “Statewide Issue Information,” and a page will appear containing detailed language for each issue as well as full explanations and arguments both for and against. Those without a computer or internet access can get the information from the local public library. Read up, then get out and vote!

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. For more visit http://www.deerinheadlines.com.

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