No more endorsements

Once upon a time, before absentee balloting became the preferred way for voters to express their candidate preferences, newspaper publishers and editors would spend considerable time and energy on offering ballot recommendations to their readers.

That tradition dates back to days long before the Internet, when most of the information gained by voters about those seeking pubic office would be found in printed media. The thinking behind making newspaper endorsements went something like, “We have been covering the campaigns and the issues, we have met in person with the candidates, and we’d like to offer our considered opinions as to who should be elected.” The endorsements typically were printed a week or so before Election Day.

That was then, this is now. The practice of good citizens waiting until Election Day to cast the ballots has changed. Now a majority of all ballots cast in San Diego County are done through the mail. Of ballots cast in the low-turnout June primary, 73 percent were by absentee. The November 2012 election saw 56 percent of the voting done by mail.

Absentee ballots are mailed 29 days before Election Day. For our endorsements to have any relevance, they would have to be printed four weeks before Election Day. That, in our opinion, is much too early. A lot can happen during those four weeks. Candidates can (and do) stumble.

Early endorsements might also open us up to allegations that coverage of an endorsed candidate might be “slanted” toward his or her election success. That would never happen here, but perception is seldom influenced by facts.

For these reasons, we have decided to no longer endorse candidates for political office. It is the end of a long tradition here, but one that needs to be ended.

We encourage our readers to do their own research on candidates running for office. Read us for profiles on local candidates and coverage of public candidate forums. Study our reports on how their campaigns are financed. Be skeptical of all campaign literature. Dig a little deeper. Be informed, and cast an intelligent ballot.

   
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