Election Edition: October 31, 2022
Note from the editor: Happy Halloween and welcome to the home stretch of reporting on the midterm elections — hang in there! If you want to revisit previous Election Edition newsletters, check out our archive. We’d love your feedback, too — please take this one-minute survey.
How to cover the intricacies of the voting process
With new voting laws and election rules that change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it’s hard to know what to expect ahead of November’s elections. This provides newsrooms an opportunity to educate their audience while “pre-bunking” misinformation about the voting process. It also prepares reporters and communities alike to contextualize what happens on November 8 and in the days following the election — from long lines to unexpected challenges or a lengthy certification process.
For many political reporters, this is the first election that requires covering the races themselves as well as addressing misinformation about the nuts and bolts of the polling process. Below are some ways to prepare your community and your newsroom for what’s to come.
“Cinematographers know it’s often good to zoom out to give a lay of the land before zooming in for a particular scene. Perhaps that’s one way to think about this moment. For the people who are just ‘tuning in’ to news on the election, what is the ‘establishing shot’ you can give them?”
– Kevin Loker, API director of strategic partnerships and research
TRY IT OUT NOW
✅ Get familiar with the alternatives to in-person voting, and keep your community updated. How many mail-in ballots have been requested, sent and returned? How many people have voted early? What is your jurisdiction’s drop-box situation, and what are the rules governing their use? This context can prepare voters for what in-person voting will look like on Election Day, as well as how various forms of voting will be tabulated.
✅ Understand the technology used in your jurisdiction. This will help you explain any problems that arise on Election Day and put them in context. Use this explainer on voting technology as a starting point.
✅ Know the poll-worker staffing levels at your local precincts. Some jurisdictions have experienced high turnover among election workers and directors. Fewer people at the polls — or a need to train a new election workforce — can slow down the process. That will need to be explained to communities.
✅ Have a handle on the rules governing poll watchers. People who volunteer to monitor the voting process for political parties have traditionally been fairly innocuous, but some are now trained to be more aggressive in challenging voters. Reporters should know in advance the rules that poll watchers must follow and how local elections officials plan to handle them if they become aggressive.
✅ Explain how new laws might affect your state’s voters. This will prepare people for what they might encounter at the polls this year.
✅ Keep an eye out for new sources of misinformation, such as Gab, Telegram and WhatsApp groups. This year, one goal of those spreading misinformation is to suppress the vote by frightening or confusing voters, especially non-English speakers. Learn more about the rash of Spanish-language misinformation spreading about the election.
+ Read tips shared by AP journalists about fine-tuning your election coverage plans.
+ Ten factors that make election rumors go viral.
+ Familiarize yourself with the latest trends in voter turnout.
+ How to pre-bunk or inoculate people against misinformation before it goes viral.
+ Get more insights from Beyond Print in your inbox.
WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING
+ Investigative Newsource produced an interactive guide illustrating how readers would be impacted by a proposed trash pickup ordinance up for vote in November.
+ LAist launched an email course that voters can use to prepare for elections.
+ Outlier Media’s voter guide is “written for Detroiters, by Detroiters.”
+ AP’s Fact Check rounds up the week’s most popular but completely untrue stories in its NOT REAL NEWS series.
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