Political campaigns and the newspaper face an evolving challenge when it comes to elections.
In essence, there are two elections this spring: The short, intense spat of voting at the polls on June 8, and the nearly month-long period before that when mail voters can be casting their ballots.
“Election Day” now lasts for weeks, with a surge of ballots coming in on the final day, but also with the potential for races to have already been decided by the mail voters.
More people seem to vote by mail every year, so the question becomes: When do you make the push to persuade (in the case of campaigns) or inform (in the case of the newspaper) the voters?
The correct answer, of course, is to do that persuading or informing throughout the period when voting can be occurring.
In reality, that means getting to the electorate early and hoping the efforts at informing/persuading have enough staying power to affect the last-minute voters as well.
The Triplicate held its candidates forum April 28, with video replays showing on Channel 4 throughout May. By the middle of this month, we had printed all of our overview stories on the Del Norte County races and made our editorial endorsements.
If you missed them the first time around — maybe you’re one of those old-fashioned voters who don’t start paying close attention until just before Election Day — you can pull up any of those articles or endorsements with a key-word search (using the last name of one of the candidates works well) on the newspaper’s Web site, triplicate.com.
New computers bring another challenge
We’ll have all that election coverage for you in one easy-to-find location on the Web site soon. It would have happened by now if we hadn’t been facing a very different challenge than covering the election over the past couple of weeks: converting to new computers and an upgraded operating system throughout the editorial and advertising departments.
The new equipment is cool. Our monitors are bigger, our keyboards smaller. There’s much less “down time” when the computer is digesting instructions while showing the operator an hourglass or some other symbol that means “just sit there and wait.”
If only we could have suspended our newspaper production for a couple of weeks while we learned to use the new bells and whistles. Instead, we’ve converted on the fly, striving to produce the same product with different tools. We’ve mostly succeeded so far, with only the occasional errant font or poorly reproduced photo getting into print.
A glut of letters to the editor
Meanwhile, the election-related letters keep coming, their writers clearly embracing the aforementioned concept of a weeks-long voting season. I’m trying to print as many of them as possible, assuming they meet the guidelines spelled out in a box elsewhere on this page.
One reason some letters get edited or entirely withheld is that they include detailed information that we do not have the resources or time to verify. Statements of opinion are no problem, but if you’re detailing new issues (or more typically old issues) about the candidates, I treat that as a news tip that we may or may not have time to check out and report on.