Combating disinformation and misinformation during an election season is critical not only on the day you cast your ballot but also in the weeks and months that follow.
Millions of people have already voted across Southwest Florida.
“We are Americans. It’s a big deal to be American. I know so many immigrants that come here, and they take voting so seriously because it’s such a part of being an American, you know,” said one Lee County voter.
That doesn’t mean candidates will stop trying to lure you in. That’s why it’s important to remember, “There is no mandate that says you have to tell the truth in political advertising. We have the first amendment right to say all kinds of things, right or wrong, and that can be problematic, particularly if you are trying to get important information to help you vote,” said FGCU law professor Pamella A. Seay.
What are some steps you can take to stay informed without being misled during an election season? Seay says it’s important that you know the background of your elected officials, whether you like them or not.
“Personally, I do like to go to the candidates’ personal websites. I like to read it directly because sometimes when they are speaking, when they are putting their ads out, it’s not the same as the information that might be on their website,” said Seay.
The next step you can take is to verify claims. If a candidate expresses information about an opposing candidate, make sure you hear the full story.
“There’s the lies of commission meaning ‘oh, I saw him do that,’ or the lies of omission ‘hmm, I don’t know, I’m not gonna tell you that part,'” said Seay.
It is also important to understand what is happening and why before making assumptions.
“If we rely only on the information provided by one candidate about another, you are missing out on a lot of very important information,” Seay said.
WINK News is here to help you do that homework. If you have questions about the election, or if you’d like something verified, you can send an email to email@example.com.