As I started writing this election post I thought of the opening scene from the Woody Allen movie Stardust Memories: his character sits glumly on a train car full of dour, silent passengers and gazes across the tracks longingly at another car full of people laughing and partying.
Friends, step away from the voiceless loners and board KPCC’s fun car for this election. We’ll be serving up sustenance and entertainment on the air, online and at election In Person events each week between now and Nov. 8.
Our KPCC campaign is called the Voter Game Plan (#votergameplan on social media). It’s an umbrella for election coverage that comes with an attitude and perspective: We don’t just want to put out stories, we want to prepare you to vote.
Voting is personally rewarding and socially meaningful — and, yes, it’s a constitutional right that women, African-Americans and others in our history have had to fight to exercise.
Your vote counts in Los Angeles, Orange County and other local and statewide races that can be close. You’ll be choosing in some cases whether school funding goes forward and whether the transit vision of Los Angeles’ Measure M is what you want for the future.
You’ll pick judges, legislators, a U.S. Senator and more. Oh, and yes — whether we have President Trump or President Clinton – though established voting patterns and polls tell us California will likely go for Clinton.
If you want cynicism, hop back on that other train car. Really.
We at KPCC understand what keeps many people from voting, because we’ve been asking and listening as we’ve covered the 2016 campaigns. When we ask what people want to know, most of it is about how to participate and become informed rather than about politics per se.
Through our Human Voter Guide, senior politics reporter Mary Plummer, and many other methods, we’ve answered questions. Low tech, high touch: Mary has taken phone messages and emails and responded on how to vote, where to vote and on other questions whose answers are far from obvious: Does voter information stay private?
Most journalism assumes too much knowledge. The mechanics of democracy — not just how to watch the race, but how to take part in your own towns and cities — aren’t obvious. In fact, they’re often downright confusing. It’s hard to get information on local races and candidates, or to know what issues are at stake or how your vote might matter.
This tends to get lost in what we call media — the crush of breathless headlines and punditry that dominates election news each day. In national coverage, it seems news outlets are straining constantly to predict what will happen. Most attention is on the presidential race, which is a heck of a horse race this year.
But horse races, boxing matches, mixed martial arts — whatever metaphor you choose — these are spectator sports. In participatory democracy, you don’t need a scorecard, you need a game plan.
Ours includes news coverage from KPCC reporters, NPR, wire services and our California Counts Collaborative including KQED, KPBS, Capital Public radio and KPCC.
It also features a voter guide that starts with typing in your home address: Bingo, you get the exact ballot you’ll complete in the voting booth or by mail. You can see candidate information, learn where you vote, see who’s contributing money to candidates, who has endorse candidates or ballot measures and find summaries of all the ballot propositions.
The guide results from partnership with MapLight and the League of Women Voters.
That and much more here: Your game plan to go.
Enjoy the ride.