A few words on election letters

By The Mercury

We don’t anticipate a lot of active campaigning this season from local legislative candidates, most of whom will win by something approaching default.

Still, there will be contested races, several of which — governor and secretary of state, for example — could become increasingly interesting in the months to come.

We will continue to publish political, or endorsement, letters in support of or opposed to a particular candidate or ballot issue. We also will continue to charge a fee for them. We initiated that policy two years ago, in part because the political letters amounted to advertisements and their volume was crowding out other local letters as well as other newspapers’ editorials. No less a factor was the fact that over the years, the endorsement letters increasingly reflected the efforts of organized writing campaigns. 

We will accept endorsement letters pertaining to the primary election until 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1; the primary is Tuesday, Aug. 5. Also, we will accept letters pertaining to the general election through 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31. The general election is Nov. 4. Endorsement letters will be published through the Sunday before the respective elections.

As is the case with other letters, we urge writers to be brief, though the 20-cent-a-word charge — yes, it is going up — might be incentive enough to encourage brevity.

These letters will go under a separate heading on the editorial page or, if necessary because of volume, the Op-Ed page, to identify them as endorsement letters. If campaigns rather than individuals pay for the letters, that will be reflected at the end of the letter

As do all letters, endorsement letters must include the writer’s name and postal address, and will be expected to adhere to the same standards as other letters: no libel, personal name-calling or unsubstantiated statements of erroneous “fact.”

There will, of course, be no charge for neutral letters during the campaign that, for example, encourage residents to vote or to otherwise become involved in the election. Residents also will not be charged, for letters on political topics that overlap with state or national issues. Examples could include letters on state taxes, school finance or health care — but only if such issues are not cited as reasons to support or oppose a candidate or slate of candidates.

With the primary election barely seven weeks away, we encourage all citizens to learn about the candidates and to cast informed ballots.

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