I've spent the afternoon trying to choose whom to elect to the various offices up for grabs in my precinct. Besides the well-publicized presidential and gubernatorial races, there are 30 other contested seats, and four bond referendums to be decided. That's a lot of homework! After a couple of hours, I still have 20 more decisions to make.
This raises three questions in my mind:
1) Is it asking too much of the "typical" voter to spend 6 hours studying candidate statments and endorsements? This is beyond the 5 hours or so I've already spent watching televised debates (and I didn't even watch the first presidential debate). I only work 40 hours a week and have no children; I can't imagine parents finding that kind of time to surf the net as I've been doing.
2) Why can't we centralize candidate information? The state Board of Elections should set up a web site containing brief statements from all candidates who file to run, including links to their own web sites.
3) How the hell am I supposed to know what qualifications are necessary for the Register of Deeds or the Commissioner of Agriculture? North Carolina judges are also elected positions; there are 13 contests for judgeships that I am to vote for. I'm going to be elitist here: if I, a very well-educated voter with excellent reading skills and an active interest in seeking out information, have a hard time making these choices, what about the rest of the voters? The people who barely finished high school, people who aren't interested or not comfortable reading "between the lines," people who don't care or don't have the time to figure out what important issues will face a District Court Judge--how are they to make informed, intelligent decisions?
I remember the giddyness of our entry into the "Information Age." Now it's the Information Overload Age, and we're not doing a very good job negotiating it. Thank God for Google.
Also, if I am still blogging in April, be prepared for my income tax rant, which will decry the increasing complexity of a task required of all US citizens in the labor force. Should be fun!