Dear Reader:

With the presidential election, a race for governor in Missouri, state legislative contests and other issues on our ballots, I wanted to let you know about some resources the Missourian is offering to help you with making these important decisions.

You can see a landing page of our election coverage so far here, which includes stories about the legislative and gubernatorial candidates. We’re continuing our coverage of Boone County Commission, sheriff and circuit judge races, and you should see stories about those candidates in the coming days on our website and in print.

In Tuesday’s print and online editions, the Missourian also will have a Voters Guide with more about the candidates and their stances on key issues. The guide is often seen in the hands of voters at polling places around Columbia, as it makes a handy reference for comparing candidates and the issues you care most about when you head to the polls.

We know that the guide is being distributed well before the Nov. 3 election, but that’s because many of you may be voting by absentee or mail-in ballot in order to avoid concerns related to COVID-19. Some of you could have already cast your ballot for this election, so you can share the guide with someone who hasn’t.

For at least 10 years, if not more, the Missourian has been providing its readers with a voters guide and a Q&A grid that features summary responses from candidates in an easy-to-digest format. We sent out written questionnaires several weeks ago and are publishing candidates’ answers to those questions online and in print; some of them were even suggested by you earlier this fall. You’ve probably already seen some of the Boone County Commission candidates’ answers and those of the legislative candidates, too, in the paper. More will be published in the coming days.

So, why devote all this space — and ink — to an election in a year when many people would say the races are already decided? We still think it’s important for you to know more about candidates since these are the folks who are being chosen to represent us.

But my colleague Mark Horvit, who manages our state reporting team, also reminded me that when candidates reply “we do not edit their comments, unless it’s for length. The guide grid is a summary of what they said, but the individual issue stories give them a chance to reach their constituents directly in their own words.”

And, in our “thumbnail” stories, we base our information on “a combination of interviews, information gleaned from websites and written responses to our requests for biographical information,” said Public Life editor Scott Swafford, whose team of reporters cover local races.

We hope that having information straight from the candidates helps you understand what’s at stake and how you’d like to vote before heading to the polls, or casting your ballot in another way this year.

As the election draws near, letters to the editor and guest commentaries will continue to be verified for their claims. We also want to give you time to absorb all the information being presented, so we won’t accept submissions related to the election after noon on Oct. 30. No letters or commentaries about candidates or issues will be published after the Nov. 1 print edition.If you have a letter you’d like to submit, please make sure it arrives by that date. You can submit online with one of these forms. I look forward to hearing from more of you.

About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

Laura Johnston is Opinion editor at the Missourian and an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism.

  • News editor at the interactive copy desk and an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism.

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