This week’s Fast Focus question is “How do you decide who to vote for?” I’d suggest broadening the question to “How do you decide who and what to vote for.” The 2014 November ballot will have three state measures, two advisory votes and four propositions on it. In my opinion, people are not as well informed about these voting choices as they are about the choices they make about candidates, even though state measures/propositions may have significant implications for the future. For example, November’s ballot will have two diametrically opposed measures on it, Initiatives 594 and 591. I-594 seeks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill by closing the gun show loophole. I-591 was crafted in reaction to I-594. It would prevent Washington from deciding its own gun laws. Gun control is one of the most contentious issues in the nation, and these ballot measures have created a f lurry of misleading advertisements. The best way for voters to make a choice is to go directly to the official measure and read it. You’ll find this information on the Benton County Voters Guide at https://wei.sos.wa.gov/county/benton/en/Elections/voterinformation/Pages/Online-Voters-Guide.aspx
Making your choice for candidates is less straight forward. It requires more research, going back several years to find what a candidate has accomplished that qualifies him/her for the position they seek, and reflecting on how a candidate’s positions on key issues map to your own. Unfortunately, you can’t just go on what a candidate says. It’s always more revealing to look at what they’ve actually done. This is harder to do when a candidate doesn’t have a voting record, so examining the organizations to which they belong, including NGOs, their community service, and other public activities helps define who they are. When choosing a candidate for office, just remember, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Finally, whatever you do, vote!
RICHARD BADALAMENTE, Kennewick