Election time — and the letters aren’t easy


    If it seems there are more election letters than usual in the paper this year, you’re not imagining things.

    At election time we always see a flood of letters endorsing candidates for local and state offices, and we do our best to squeeze them all in before Election Day (recognizing that many people vote as soon as they get their ballots.) Just a heads up: We’re not going to make it this year.

    We set our election letter deadline for 5 p.m. Friday, which was clearly too generous, although it was the earliest cutoff I can recall.

    Just since Oct. 1, the Mail Tribune has published 175 letters, a great many of them election letters. On Monday morning, we had 47 letters processed and waiting to run, 22 more waiting to be processed, and 115 in the letters email inbox that hadn’t even been printed out yet — and all arrived before the deadline. For those keeping track at home, that’s 184, and there are only 14 publication days left before the election (we don’t print election letters on Election Day).

    You do the math. We managed to print 175 letters in 22 days — and that was accomplished by dedicating entire open pages to letters on several days. The chances we can get 184 more into print in just 14 days are somewhere between slim and none.

    But we’ll do our best.

    I suspect most voters aren’t swayed much by election letters, but we continue to publish as many as we can as a community service. And if the volume this year is an indication of increased interest, and that leads to a big turnout on Nov. 6, that’s a good thing.

    The sheer numbers should put to rest any dark suspicions that we pick and choose letters, publishing only those we agree with. That’s never been the case, although there will be those few die-hard readers who insist there is some conspiracy afoot to squelch their point of view and no one else’s. Trust me: It’s enough work to wade through the letters as it is. I don’t have time to orchestrate the letters to present a lopsided reflection of what we receive.

    We run letters in approximately the order received, with slight variations dictated by what’s needed to fill the available space on a given page. We also limit election letters to 150 words, rather than the usual 200, to fit more in.

    We appreciate everyone’s willingness to abide by that rule, and we especially appreciate email, because it allows us to copy and paste your letters into our production system without having to retype them. That not only saves time, it cuts down on transcription errors.

    I realize we have readers who don’t use email, and that’s fine; we’ll print your letters, too. But please, don’t type your letter on a computer, print it out and snail-mail it in. It will get in faster if you just fire it off in an email to letters@mailtribune.com. You — and we — will be glad you did.

    Reach Editorial Page Editor Gary Nelson at gnelson@rosebudmedia.com.

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