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PROFILE: UC Volunteer Helps Raise Voter Awareness

Date: Oct. 10, 2000
By: Michele Howard, intern
Photo by: Lisa Ventre

On Nov. 7, millions of Americans will flood to their polling place to cast a vote for the next president of the United States. However, according to the Vanishing Voter, a project of the Joan Shorenstein Center of the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Americans are poorly informed about the candidates.

Mickey Croyle

"Most are unaware of the front-runners' positions on key issues and those who think they know the positions are often wrong," the agency reports.

For example, on Aug. 27, The Shorenstein Center Poll asked participants, "Do you happen to know whether Bush favors or opposes requiring people to register all guns they own?" Twenty percent said he favors registration, 30 percent claimed he opposes it, and 47 percent admitted they didn't know or hadn't heard.

Mickey Croyle, research associate in the Division of Endocrinology at UC, is aware of these trends and is doing her part to change them. Aside from her work to find drugs to treat thyroid cancers, Croyle is a community activist and a member of Cincinnati's League of Women Voters (LWV), a nonpartisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government.

In 1994, Croyle attended the league's national convention. "There was a web creation workshop there," she explained. Using the skills she learned at the convention, Croyle posted a bulletin on the League's web site. Since then, Croyle has taken over as webmaster for the league's Ohio branch.

Croyle uses the Internet as a means to educate. "We provide information on elections and government structure and encourage people to vote and actively participate in government."

Croyle explained the Internet is an excellent medium to get out the information voters need. "We provide a community service. Newspapers can't cover every candidate. We can give everyone a better sense of who the candidates are."

The Vanishing Voter Project agrees about the importance of the Internet in the 2000 election. The project reports the overall number of people using the Internet to get news and other public affairs information is on the upswing.

A visit to the LWV website will provide citizens with a plethora of useful information. "We answer a lot of questions concerning voter registration," said Croyle. "We also inform voters about who's on their ballot" and provide information about the candidates. In addition, "we have how a bill becomes a law, legislation status, bill status, and a TV guide for voter related programs."

"Basically, the LWV website is the who and what of elections with information on the power structure and who is responsible for what," said Croyle.

The LWV website also offers an explanation of ballot language and practical guidance to voters who are unsure how to choose candidates. Visitors to the site can also browse the "Directory of Public Officials" to find addresses of political leaders.

"This presidential year is an opportunity for online news and political organizations to help voters find the information they want and compare views and communicate with political leaders and each other," reports the Vanishing Voter.

The LWV is one of the 19 local, nonprofit, social change organizations that make up the Greater Cincinnati Community Shares program, an umbrella organization that raises funds through payroll deductible campaigns such as UC s Charitable Giving Campaign. (UC s campaign also benefits another umbrella organization, United Way.)

The funding received from Community Shares helps to pay for the programming costs ($6,000) to generate the custom ballot and polling place locator on the Smart Voter site. It also helps to fund the printed "Who and What of Elections," "They Represent Us" and the other Citizen Education Projects done by the LWV of the Cincinnati Area Education Fund.

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