Several groups in Arizona publish voter guides and claim they are non-partisan. Yet, the manner in which they pose their questions distorts the issues in so carefully that a voter may not be aware of the implicit bias. How is a voter to know if the guide is worth their time?
- Look at who responded: If a majority of the responses are from only one party, be conscious of potential bias.
- Look carefully at the questions and answers: if the guide doesn’t publish narrative responses, can you trust that everyone interpreted the question in the same manner that you would? Given that many of the issues are complex–how can one sentence explain the issue, and a “support” or “oppose” explain the answer. For example: “The state should increase taxes to provide additional funding for the state budget.” Are they asking about commercial property tax, residential property tax, gas tax, estate tax, corporate tax, individual income tax, business investment tax deductions, reducing healthcare cost deductions, increasing hotel, rental car, or cigarette/liquor taxes? Can a candidate support equalizing residential and commercial real estate tax rates or increasing taxes on something narrow and tailored for a specific purpose while reducing individual income tax and still answer the question with a yes/no?
- Look at the goals of the organization? Did the organization propose and sponsor legislation? Have they been in the news for their positions? Think Senate Bill 1062–the pro-discrimination law so conservative that Jan Brewer vetoed it? Yes, I am talking about the Center for Arizona Policy and their biased “voter guide.” I didn’t participate in that guide last campaign, thinking that my participation legitimized the publication. I may be convinced to do otherwise this year… more to come.
Stick with the newspapers– they are cumbersome, long and detailed–with plenty of opportunity for explanation! Here is the best from 2016 AZCENTRAL Can’t wait for 2018