Avoid Ebola or beheadings now

Looking to prevent Ebola or being beheaded by an Isis terrorist? Keep reading, because after the spoonful of medicine comes the little bit of sugar.

It’s election time again. Has there ever been a midterm election that was actually more boring than the primary? The Washoe County registrar of voters reported that 50,960 Washoe County residents cast a ballot in the primary, and voter turnout in Washoe County was 23.43 percent.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2013 there were 433,731 people in Washoe County, so please allow us to disabuse you of that 23.43 percent number. In real numbers, 382,771 in Washoe County did not vote. That means 88.3 percent of Washoe County residents did not help to decide who the rest of us get to vote for in upcoming weeks.

In these days in which the internet is the only media that matters—except for weekly newsprint, of course—companies measure a website or campaign’s value using something called “engagement.” It’s a marketing term that grew out of social media. Its metrics are measured in different ways, from time spent on a site, to how often something is shared, to how someone got there, to how often they return, to criteria we Luddites can’t even figure out. But what it boils down to is, “Does anyone give a damn about what you’re doing?”

Of all the essential government services that should be on the forefront of social engagement but are failing to come into the 21st century, the registrar of voters takes the cake. That office and the Nevada secretary of state’s office are ostensibly the only disinterested public agencies that provide voting information to the public. But they make no attempt to engage voters to register to vote, to get informed about when and where to vote, or to see candidate bios using social media.

That leaves it up to the news media—all of which is biased in one way or another—to get out election information. We can see what happens when only biased media voices are shared: We end up with 11.7 percent of the most partisan members of our community casting votes—and they don’t care who the better candidate is, all they care about is the party. We also end up with a huge percentage of the population believing that the Reno mayor’s race is the only one that matters in Northern Nevada. We also end up with two candidates whose biggest difference is how they look.

Unfortunately, we suffer a bit from the pot calling the kettle black. Our own coverage was, particularly around the primary, spotty because we’re primarily non-partisan voters who are mostly excluded from the primary system. At any rate, while we continue our pre-election coverage, just in time for early voting, we’re launching an election page. It will have links to our endorsements, our previous election coverage and the results of a survey of the local politicians who chose to respond: www.newsreview.com/reno/northern-nevada-elections.

Now, while we don’t expect this election to supplant the coverage of beheadings or people thousands of miles away dying of Ebola—except for on Election Day, when it will be reported like it’s the Kentucky Derby—we suggest Reno people avoid those places where Ebola has been spotted or people have been beheaded by terrorists. We have yet to hear of someone contracting the disease or getting beheaded at a Washoe County voting booth. Plainly, the voting booth will be the safest place.