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Sarah Stultz: Ready or not, here come the campaign fliers

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

 

About a week and a half after the primary election, almost like clockwork we began receiving election fliers in the mail.

I’m not sure how these political organizations choose who gets a flier, but the mail sure has started to roll in.

In about a week and a half of time, we received about a half dozen fliers, and we still have a little more than two months until the general election — sigh.

I hate to say it to whoever sent the fliers, but those fliers went directly into the recycling bin. We didn’t stop for a single second to read them.

I’ve come across too many mailers in the past that stretch the truth or take statements out of context, so I choose to no longer even consider them or let them sway my voting decisions. I’ve found most of these types of fliers are not even from the candidates themselves, but are from other organizations that have an interest in the outcome of the election. And most of the fliers oppose a candidate, instead of pointing out why to vote for a certain candidate.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, candidates, political parties and interest groups spent $6.4 billion on federal elections in 2016. This includes everything from advertisements and phone banks to direct mail and canvassing. Think about all that could be done with that money!

It’s true, people need to know about the candidates, but we also deserve accurate information. With information coming at people from all sides and from all types of organizations, sometimes it is difficult for people to weigh the truth about platforms and voting history against the exaggerations and biased information that gets shared on social media and in other forms.

I know I’m not going to base my voting decisions on a flier, and I hope others will take the time to look deeper into the issues from credible news sources.

If you do check out the fliers you get in the mail, be sure to check out who sent the flier and then look up background about the organization and what it has at stake in the election. 

Second, if an organization quotes a candidate out of our newspaper or any other news source, try to look that original article up and read the quote in its entire context so you know how the statement was said. Sometimes it is not presented in the manner it was originally stated.

Though it may take a little extra work, it is critical to do your homework to educate yourself about the candidates. Much is on the line in the upcoming election.

In the meantime, just because I’m curious, I think I might start keeping a tally of all the campaign mailers I get in the next two months. Anyone have a guess on how many I’ll get?

Sarah Stultz is managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.