Your Weekend Reader for Nov. 5-6

by | Nov 5, 2022 | 2022 Elections, Weekend Reader | 3 comments

It’s the weekend before Tuesday’s Election Day, so before you read this — really, before you do anything else this weekend — make sure you’ve voted. In Benton County, only about 37.3% of registered voters had turned in their ballots as of Friday afternoon, so that suggests that many of you might still be pondering a choice or two. Typically, in these midterm elections, turnout in Benton County will be around 75%.

You have until Tuesday to return your ballots — and you should be able to mail them as well on Election Day. A relatively new state law says that a ballot postmarked on Election Day will count as long as it arrives at the county Elections Office within seven days.

That also means that we might not know the results of close races until later in the week — and, as you may have heard, Oregon seems likely to have some close races this election.

You may also have heard concerns nationally about voter fraud. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but the fact is that Oregon’s vote-by-mail system contains unique safeguards against fraud. If you want to inoculate yourself against vote-fraud misinformation, consider my recent story for the Oregon Capital Chronicle a bit of a booster shot.

In a related story, Julia Shumway of the Capital Chronicle wrote about a new study from the Elections and Voting Information Center at Reed College in Portland and the Democracy Fund, a nonpartisan foundation in Washington, D.C. The study found that nearly 40% of election officials who are eligible to retire plan to do so before 2024. A significant number of those officials cited the political environment and concerns about their health or personal safety as reasons to retire. 

Crime rates have been an issue — both statewide and nationally — this election season. So you might want to take note of a useful new report from the Oregon Justice Resource Center, “Crime and Safety in Oregon in 2022.” The report from the center, a nonprofit law firm, found that violent crime in Oregon actually has declined slightly and that property-crime rates are the lowest they’ve been since 1966. However, homicide rates in Oregon have increased, due to a rise in murder rates in the Portland area. Still, the homicide rate in 2021 in Oregon was 4.2 per 100,000 people, below the national rate of 6.9. Ben Botkin of the Oregon Capital Chronicle had the story about the report.

It’s been a rough few years for Portland, which took another shot this week, courtesy of Dulce Sloan, on an episode of “The Daily Show,” which has been broadcasting this week from Atlanta. For one of the show’s filmed features, Sloan set out to examine Atlanta’s growing nationwide influence. The bit starts out with Sloan saying: “Now, Atlanta has been called many things — the Black Mecca, Wakanda, a Black utopia. It’s basically the opposite of Portland, Oregon.”

In a related story: Did you notice The Oregonian’s remarkable series, “Publishing Prejudice,” in which the newspaper examined — and apologized for — its racist history? As reporter Rob Davis explained: “The newspaper helped create the Oregon of today: A majority white state, with the West Coast’s smallest proportion of Black residents, anchored by Portland, America’s whitest big city. Despite Oregon’s progressive reputation and growing population of color, its major institutions — lawmakers, schools, police, housing systems and health care providers — have failed to erase deep-rooted inequities.”

During his weeklong stay in Atlanta, “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah also took note of — and made fun of — a political ad from the Oregon Right to Life PAC attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek. In part, the ad claimed: “Babies have to watch their backs because of Tina Kotek.” If you give Noah that kind of raw material, you know he’s going to score — and, as Kristi Turnquist reported for The Oregonian/OregonLive, he did.

It’s a week or so old now, but did you catch the recent New York Times “Frugal Traveler” piece about a visit to Willamette Valley wine country? The reporter, Elaine Glusac, flew to Portland and then took public transportation to McMinville, where she bicycled and walked to a number of the town’s wineries. That … sounds like fun, although I think I would drive straight to McMinville and bag the Portland stop.

Speaking of wine, here’s Oregonian wine writer Michael Alberty’s recent profile of Lumos Wine Co., just outside of Philomath. The story is interesting enough that I’ll overlook his misspelling of Marys Peak.

Michelle Goldberg, an opinion writer for The New York Times, also traveled to Oregon, but the trip sounded much less fun than Glusac’s winery tour. In a tough-minded piece, she explores how homelessness in Portland might pave the way for Republican Christine Drazan to win the Oregon governor’s race.

Here’s something that’s kind of fun, in a dark and disturbing way. Two decades ago, journalist Gwen Ifill coined the term “missing white woman syndrome” to describe the media’s tendency to cover certain types of missing-person cases. As a piece by Kyle Pope of the Columbia Journalism Review explains:

The sad fact remains that in the United States, white people, particularly white women, garner much more media coverage when they go missing than any other group, significantly out of proportion to the number of cases. That means that time and again, media outlets are making judgments — often misguided judgments, not informed by data — about which missing-persons cases to cover and which to ignore. And those coverage decisions have a significant influence on whether those people are found.

Pope and his teammates have created an online test that asks some basic questions — age, ethnicity, gender, residence — to determine how much press coverage you would rate if you were to go missing. I took the test, and here’s the number to beat: 11. That’s how much press coverage my disappearance would generate. On the plus side, the test said that my disappearance would likely be mentioned by The New York Times — but that’s probably only because I subscribe. Take the test yourself and post the results below in the comments section. And if you mysteriously disappear, I pledge to write about you on my blog, so that would be at least one story.

Don’t disappear until you vote, though. That’s it for this weekend; see you after the election. Maybe we’ll have some results by next weekend.

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