Editorial: Voters need to focus, avoid distracting candidate implosions and campaign hijinks

Posted October 4, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT

CBC Editorial: Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020; Editorial #8594
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company.

It is early October. It is an election year. This is the time when campaigns should be the most focused. The messages to voters about candidates and stands on critical issues become sharpest and to the point. In a mere two days the campaigns for president and the U.S. Senate – as well as one of the critical issues concerning the appointment of the next U.S. Supreme Court justice – have been tossed topsy-turvy.

And let’s not forget efforts to undermine the State Board of Election’s work to clarify procedures concerning mail-in voting.

At a time when voters ought to have the information needed to shape their choices, they instead are finding more confusion and chaos. Candidates and campaigns have no one but themselves to blame.

In an election year like no other because of the demands imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, candidates and campaigns haven’t been satisfied to struggle with those challenges. They’ve added to it with their own missteps along with failures to observe basic health and safety practices.

It has been a disservice to the voters that they’re seeking to sway.

Let’s review:

Early Friday morning we learned that President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19. Instead of being on the campaign trail and participating in his VERY RISKY rallies, he’s reportedly been treated with oxygen and is at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His campaign has essentially ground to a halt as several key aides have also tested positive. Laid bare, it has been Trump’s own inappropriate behavior and inappropriate disinformation about confronting coronavirus.

The U.S. Senate is in disarray as several Republican senators have been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive – including North Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis who is in a tough re-election campaign.

The Senate is in the midst of a highly controversial effort to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. But the virus has disrupted the plan to quickly rubber-stamp the nominee because other key senators, like Tillis, have recently been found to be COVID-19 positive. The Senate’s suspended most business for the next two weeks. It makes questionable that the Senate will meet Trump’s desire to have the nomination confirmation fulfilled before the election.

Not satisfied to let voters ponder Tillis’ challenges, it was revealed that his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham, acknowledged he has been exchanging explicit romantic texts with a California woman who isn’t his wife. The outcome of the North Carolina race, knowledgeable observers contend, will determine which political party controls the U.S. Senate in 2021. Whatever slim advantage Cunningham had in the polls is now in jeopardy as voters recall memories of the scandals of one of the state’s previous Democratic Senators – John Edwards.

And let’s not forget, the exact procedures for dealing with mail-in absentee ballots are still unsettled amid a manufactured controversy. We now have one state court saying everything is OK while a federal court just issued a temporary order stopping implementation of the rules.

What’s a voter to do? Here’s our suggestion:

Don’t be distracted. Stay focused on the issues you care about (we’ve got our list of issues we’ll be sharing later this week). Find out where the candidates stand on those issues. It’s not hard. There are handy voter guides that, based on answers supplied by the candidates will help. The WRAL.COM Voters Guide is here. The North Carolina Common Cause Voters Guide is here.

On the top of this page, there are handy online links. Make sure you’re registered to vote.

And VOTE! There are three ways: by mail (request a ballot no later than. Oct. 27 and get it in the mail by Nov. 3); early in person (starting Oct. 15 and continuing through Oct. 31); and voting on Election Day (Nov. 3).

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