Voting First Path to Input

My title:

Don't Miss Changes with Misinformation

I hope y'all get out and vote today. It may not seem exciting since there's no Presidential or Senatorial race, but today's vote on taxes and infrastructure has more impact on your daily life than whether you voted for Clinton or Dole last time (although electing the Libertarian Harry Browne would have shaken things up).

Depending on the vote on the sales tax measures, every time you pull out your wallet you may end up spending a bit more money. Or prices may stay the same but county government may change some of the services they provide. Local elections are far more important to the daily life of citizens than most national ones. Don't ignore this election.

How are you going to decide how to vote? Apparently the ballot issues booklet mailed by the county provides some misinformation. At least that's what the County Manager and County Attorney say about one of the citizen statements against a new tax. But I'm sure many voters feel the county is providing misinformation about the need for new taxes.

Misinformation is one of the pitfalls of the Internet. Officials of all sorts from governments, colleges, and professional associations warn that you can't trust what you read on your web browser. Of course, you can always trust what the officials put on paper.

They naively assume that people can tell by the context how valid information is. Unfortunately, far more people read the National Enquirer-type papers for "news" than read the New York Times. Even the Coloradoan carries a daily astrology forecast although it's supposed to be a credible paper. And renowned, credentialed critics from universities and networks decry the replacement of news with "infotainment."

On the worldwide web, the arguments about validity can't be heard above the din of everyone speaking at once. Anyone with a modem or access to a computer at a university or library can have his or her own say. Granted, there are many oddball ideas, all-encompassing conspiracy theories, and hate mongering, but there are also good ideas, alternative points of view, and on-line churches. It's just regular civilization unfiltered by pundits and unfettered by the high cost and restricted access of regular publications.

I think the main problem the conventional media has with the web is that they're not setting the agenda so they use the guise of misinformation to try to clamp the lid on genuine discourse. The web is like voting--everyone gets a say--but it's better because we're not stuck with just a yea or nay, Democratic or Republican, either-or choice once every year or two. For example, instead of accepting the fact that we've got to build a new jail, perhaps I like the way it forces creative sentencing, locking people up on weekends or using electronic bracelets for incarceration. Or maybe I want to vote for the county to reopen the lawsuit or give us a new ordinance to vote for that says we can keep criminals in crowded yet safe conditions. Or maybe I'd like the county to quit locking people up for victimless crimes or to quit enforcing some laws. Or maybe I'd like the county to build even more jails for miscreants, raise taxes and quit building roads or removing snow. There are many other options besides the yes/no vote we get today.

I value the web's freedom to publish any perverse view because I trust in the good sense of most citizens. But I don't let it overshadow the fact there is only one real input we currently have in the political process. Get out and vote today.