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Friday, May 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control: Help for voters who can’t decide how to mark their ballot

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2018, election supervisor Kortney Kinzer reviews the final proof for , right, (Elaine Thompson / AP)
In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2018, election supervisor Kortney Kinzer reviews the final proof for , right, (Elaine Thompson / AP)

OLYMPIA – Two more days, and a few hours.

That’s how much time is left before the robocalls end, the commercials go back to selling beer and prescription drugs, and voting stops in the Nov. 6 midterm election. Older readers probably are more accustomed to “before the polls close,” but there are no polls to close any more. Just mail to be delivered or drop boxes to be stuffed, so the idioms have to adapt.

If your ballot is still somewhere in the house – and despite what looks like record numbers of ballots to date at the Spokane County elections office, a majority of them are – you may be looking for some help in figuring out whether you support or oppose one of those ballot initiatives, or want do more than flip a coin to select between two candidates you don’t recognize.

Here’s Spin Control’s Sunday-before-the-election suggestions for clearing up that confusion:

The first place to look – and we might be a tad biased here – is The Spokesman-Review’s 2018 Election Center, a link to which can be found near the top of the newspaper’s website and at www.spokesman.com/elections. Because we realize that not every reader reads every story every day, it’s reasonable to assume that some of you missed a story about an issue or a candidate that might help you decide which oval to fill in.

Nearly a year’s worth of election stories are archived at the Election Center, and they can be searched by race, from the U.S. Senate to the East Valley School District proposition. It also has a collection of candidate interviews and the newspaper’s editorial endorsements for those who like to use them as suggestions of whom to vote for – or against.

The state Voters Pamphlet was mailed to households in October slightly before the ballots, so if your mail piles up like an archeological dig, it might be a layer or two below. It’s easy to spot, with a cover that sports the green state flag and George Washington’s mug, and fairly thick because it has the complete texts of initiatives as well as information the candidates. While the initiative information has statements and rebuttals from the pros and the cons, the candidate information is supplied by the candidates themselves, so it shouldn’t be viewed as truly objective.

Can’t find it? There are copies at public libraries, and versions are available online at the Secretary of State website and the County Elections website.

Many other groups also provide voter information, although it will be – not surprisingly – slanted toward their particular viewpoint.

For a conservative Christian take on candidates, there’s We Believe We Vote, which bases its candidate endorsements on several issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage, gender fluidity – they believe homosexuality is a sin and God made folks male and female – and religious freedom, which includes the right of a business to deny services that are against their religious beliefs. They also believe the right to bear arms is supported in the Bible as well as the Second Amendment, oppose recreational marijuana and believe clear borders are God’s idea.

While they try to get interviews with all candidates, their endorsements are sometimes based on incumbents’ records and information from iVoter Guide, another faith-based organization. They don’t make recommendations on the ballot issues, and instead refer people to the analysis on the initiatives by the Washington Policy Center.

The policy center, a conservative free-market organization, doesn’t endorse candidates but it has compiled all of its analyses of the state initiatives and the Spokane bond issues for its election resource page. While it doesn’t say vote yea or nay on any of them, if you can’t tell what it thinks you should do, you aren’t paying attention.

On the other side of the spectrum is the Progressive Voters Guide, put out by Fuse Washington. It does make endorsements on the ballot measures as well as on candidates. Most of the candidates it backs are Democrats, but it does make some GOP picks in races where two Republicans made it through the primary. The endorsements come with some information about the candidate or issue and the progressive, liberal or labor groups who have endorsed them.

Voters still struggling to discern how the WPC thinks they should vote on the ballot measures could look at the Progressive Guide and just vote the other way.

The Washington State Labor Council endorses candidates, although the Cliffs Notes’ version is they back Democrats. This year they don’t weigh in on most initiatives, which likely reflects some divergence of opinions on the controversial measures.

The National Federation of Independent Business also endorses legislative candidates, and is essentially the yin to the Labor Council’s yang, backing Republicans. They also weigh in against Initiative 1631, the carbon fee measure.

For voters looking for further hints, one can follow the old adage of “Follow the Money” by going to the Public Disclosure Commission website, clicking on the orange “Browse” box and selecting either “candidates by year” or “committees and initiatives.” Money is political speech – just ask the U.S. Supreme Court – and some group you belong to or person you respect or disrespect may be talking loudly about a campaign.

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