Having tried, and all-to-often failed, at reaching candidates for public office at all levels of government, I feel I can say this with some authority: A surprising number of you are completely mysterious and unreachable.
I have just completed my second election cycle compiling a Voters Guide for NUVO. I am very proud of the work I did for these guides, and I truly thank the many candidates in both elections who took the time to thoughtfully respond to the issues their constituents care about the most. The first time was during the 2018 midterm elections, when candidates from 30 federal, state, and county-wide races answered questions from our readers. The second time was for the just-completed 2019 Marion County municipal primary election, in which candidates for Indianapolis City-County Council and mayor did the same.
During that first cycle, I loudly complained about several unresponsive Republican congressional candidates, not the least of which was now-Rep. Greg Pence. These were amazingly aloof politicians given the prestigious positions they sought, but I will give them credit for at least giving the appearance of offering various forms of communications with voters including Facebook, Twitter, website, phone, and mail.
The municipal primary election proved to be even more of a challenge. Many candidates had no website whatsoever. Some had a Twitter account from a previous election that was locked. Some had personal Facebook pages, but not ones for their campaigns.
Others had none of the above. I ended up using the information provided by the Marion County Election Board to call the ones with working phone numbers, and sending paper mail versions of the questions to those without them. One of these letters was even returned to us by the Post Office as “not deliverable as addressed.”
I ran into the same problem researching candidates in my own district during the primary election. I live in Noblesville, and there were two candidates running for my city council district. Neither had an official website or a Twitter account. Only one of them had an official campaign Facebook page, and the other one just had a personal page.
If I'm a journalist, and if I'm having this much trouble finding basic biographical information about you, how are the rest of the citizens you seek to represent supposed to make an informed decision?
Email and social media accounts are free to set up, so there's literally no excuse for not having one. And, being that it's 2019, if you can't create even a basic campaign website, how do I even know you're even competent enough to do the job?
It frequently upsets me when I see such widespread voter apathy and low turnout rates. The fact that Americans have a chance to freely elect our leaders is a rare and wonderful thing, and those who never vote spit in the face of those who fought and sometimes died to secure that right.
But, how can I convince the voters to care when so many of the candidates don't even pretend to be accessible?