Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why we publish addresses of electoral candidates

A reader and at least one school district have questioned the Freeman’s publication of the residential addresses of school board candidates. Following is the question of one Web reader:

" Not sure why they post the addresses of all these people? Probably not a big deal, or maybe it is standard protocol, but I just don't understand the reason... "

We publish the addresses of candidates for a number of reasons.
First, we seek to avoid reader confusion of a candidate with a local resident of the same name. It can happen, of course, that complete strangers share the same name or names that are close enough to cause confusion. More often, a son shares a name with a father and may live within the same township or school district. In these situations, an address may help locals with some knowledge of their community identify the actual candidate; this would be particularly true in summary stories that do not include other information about candidates, such as age, occupation, etc., or photos of the candidates.
Also, when it comes to school districts, it is often of interest to voters whether a potential school board member is from their particular community within the district or, more specifically, within the area from which a district’s elementary school draws. It can matter to voters how closely an individual may identify with specific issues related to geography.
One note of interest, this specificity of identifying candidates publicly by address goes all of the way up the electoral food chain. When the 2012 general election rolls around, sharp-eyed readers will notice that the legal notice for the ballot for the coming election will include the residential addresses of all candidates, including the incumbent president of the United States.



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