One of the most amazing things that happened this past week was my own frustration on trying to vote ont he Broward County ballot and then discovering how much content was missing. Simply put – being an informed voter is not easy at all this year.
Yes, our attention has been super-glued to the media and robocalls and volunteer efforts to bring out the vote by the Presidential campaigns – which means that supporters from both parties are going to be driven to the polls. The Presidential pick and the Congressional picks are relatively easy since people are pushing an effort out – but what about the local elections?
Sure, the Florida Amendments and the Broward County Charter changes are administrative – which is why I have included the summary of the amendments and the statements from the newspaper’s Editorial Boards for your perusal.
Disappointingly, very little information was out there for the non-exciting amendments (e.g. the amusingly named “Marriage Protection Amendment”) which made the Editorial Boards important in terms of fleshing out the Amendments.
What bothered me the most was the lack of information from the local candidates for the various roles. In particular, a bunch of the candidates did not tell me who they are – and support their case with details on what they stand for and why I should choose them for office. Let me break down the Broward ballot and show you what I mean.
Broward County Commission Seat 3
This race is between Ms. Lois Wexler and Mr. Russell Setti. In both cases, the use of the web has been either ignored (in Ms. Wexler’s case) or obscured with unclear information (as in Mr. Setti’s case).
Ms. Wexler – who is Broward County’s appointed mayor – has no campaign website whatsoever. At least not indexed by google. What she does have is her page on the broward.org web site. And since she is the incumbent, this gives enough credibility on her part to be electable. Mr. Setti, on the other hand, has a site called Vote for Real Change which violates all sorts of basic web principles for campaigns. Consider:
- The URL of his site has nothing to do with his name – and google (and other search engines) rely on that more than anything else. Take a look at what google provides when you search his name by clicking on this link – the Pipl entry is the first used – not a good lead. And then the next page shown is for his Volunteer page, which does not explain what he is campaigning for.
- His homepage reads more like what I would hear if I were going to date him, rather than what he will do if I elected him in the role of County Commissioner. Read his homepage and tell me what you think.
- Navigation – when I worked on sites for Broward, one of the things I realized was that most Broward residents are in need of glasses of some sort. Especially when campaigning online, and the senior citizens are looking for details, having a menu that is in small point than 11pt is a problem to use.
- On the one site that is highly indexed across all of the Broward races (cbs4.com’s Voters Guide), there is no biographical information for him. Funnily enough, his site has all of his roles and positions listed, which would have been very powerful to place on this authoritative spot.
I could go on, and this is not a bashing of Mr. Setti, but a quick and dirty rundown of how ignoring the web hurts you in the long run.
Broward County Sheriff
In Broward, you know the Sheriff is an important role – and I could tell just by the fact that both men created websites. Sheriff Lamberti has a site at www.allamberti.com which (IMHO) is essentially a “tick-box” site. He has his endorsements (which you need to click through to get to the valuable ones) and his horizontal menu is absolutely tiny and confusing (why put the “Paid for” line there?).
Scott Israel got a slightly different site – and his navigation is clearer – but think about what people are trying to ascertain – why should he be the new Sheriff? On his site, scottisraelforsheriff.com he puts the characteristics of what are the “essential qualities of a Sheriff” should be – but then does not prove he has them. Where’s the beef?
I appreciate the personal history – but tie it to your narrative. Is Scott Israel a “strong leader”? “Tough administrator”? What have you done to prove this on the front page? And where are the strong endorsements on the homepage? This is what is missing is he is looking for a bump from the number of people that are coming to his site.
And the worst part (for both campaigns): neither of them filled out the information on the cbs4.com site. It is embarrassing when the questions posed to both candidates are answered with “Candidate has not yet supplied this information.”
Broward Soil & Water Cons. Dist, Dist. 3
This role makes me laugh, if only for the fact that I only became aware of it from watching Burn Notice and the absolutely hilarious take on the Dade County role by Larry Miller. The sad part is, neither of the two candidates for this role made it easy to figure out if they wanted to role or not.
Neither Oliver Parker or Fred Segal put up a website or even answered the cbs4.com site request – which meant that people have been relegated to guessing whom they should chose for the position. Heck, there are not even photos of them available for use. Sad part is, when I find this site to be ranking high on google for these two people, I have to wonder – why did they not think to do something to help people know who they are?
Candidates: go to the cbs4.com site and answer the questions. The Editorial Boards appreciate the love – but in this world of blogs, search engines and such – people are going to put comments out there (see my post and the comment made about Oliver Parker. Unless you engage, the discourse is going to be managed by the crowd – not by you.