Joyce Terhaar

From the Executive Editor: Try out our online Voter Guide

Published: Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1E
Last Modified: Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 - 8:04 am

It's convenient. It's useful. And, yes, it can even make voting fun.

I'm talking about The Bee's online election information and Voter Guide.

Go to sacbee.com/elections and you will find everything from your personalized ballot to fact-checkers monitoring state and national races.

Last week I typed in my address, had a replica of my ballot pop up and started checking out candidates and initiatives.

Haven't had time to research a race? This guide will allow you to compare candidates next to each other with biographical information and their answers to Bee questions on issues.

Such information is particularly valuable in places like the city of Sacramento this year, where every voter will be challenged to learn about the 54 candidates running for the proposed City Charter Commission. After choosing your 15, you will find the arguments for and against Measure M, which would create the commission.

The online Voter Guide is a more personalized version of the printed Voters Guide published last Sunday by The Bee. It's just one of many tools we compile to help you decide how to vote.

We prioritize fact-checking during the election cycle to ensure voters have accurate information and are not bamboozled by politicians spinning their own facts, whether in television ads, campaign stops or debates.

The Bee's Capitol Bureau has for years provided "Ad Watch" pieces that fact-check campaign ads for truthfulness. In the last election cycle we added a rating system to the analysis, telling you whether an ad is "True," "Somewhat misleading," "Mostly misleading," or an "Outright lie." The "Outright lie" ratings are rare; so are those that say an ad is "True," showing just how necessary it is for reporters to call out candidates who are being dishonest with voters.

In the last couple of months, our political reporters have analyzed more than two dozen advertising campaigns. Bee reporters Kevin Yamamura and David Siders have worked to hold accountable the campaigns for Propositions 30 and 38, two competing tax measures. Gov. Jerry Brown's Prop. 30 would increase the sales tax by a quarter percent and income taxes on the wealthy to raise about $6 billion annually once it takes full effect. Brown says it would stop $5 billion in cuts scheduled for K-12 schools and higher education. Wealthy civil rights lawyer Molly Munger's Prop. 38 would raise taxes on all but the lowest income earners to raise $10 billion annually, sending the money directly to schools.

The stakes for California are high and the campaigning has been fierce. You may already have seen the four ads analyzed by Yamamura and Siders, who found them all to be misleading to various degrees.

If you missed it, you can find those analyses on our Election 2012 page, along with a compilation of headlines and links to some of the other best fact-checkers in the country: PolitiFact, published by the Tampa Bay Times; FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania; te Fact Checker by the Washington Post; and the Associated Press AdWatch.

Follow the link to PolitiFact and you find an abundance of fact-checking on the presidential race. For instance, it rates as "Mostly True" President Barack Obama's statement that Mitt Romney is proposing a tax plan "that would give millionaires another tax break and raises taxes on middle-class families by up to $2,000 a year." And it rates as "Half True" Romney's statement that "Since President Obama took office, there are over 450,000 more unemployed women."

One of the biggest challenges for voters this year are the 11 statewide ballot measures on top of local measures and school bond pleas. Knowing the basics helps – what an initiative would do, what it costs and who supports or opposes it. That is part of our California Propositions gallery, but you also can read Bee coverage that gives you far more detail.

You also can find highlights of our coverage of the top local races, by county, to augment the detail in the Voter Guide.

All this work is done in the newsroom. Our editorial board, on which I sit but which Stuart Leavenworth runs, publishes endorsements in all key races. Those endorsements are just one more piece of information available and are at sacbee.com/endorsements.

Or, make your own endorsement. As you fill out your personalized ballot, you'll be asked whether you want to endorse a candidate or initiative on your Facebook page. Just say yes, and then email yourself a copy of your ballot to take to the polls.

We make it easy for you.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Joyce Terhaar



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