Election letters have guidelines to follow

Labor Day has come and gone. The kids are back in school. The weather is starting to take a turn and the feel of fall is in the air.

All of that can mean only one thing: Election season has arrived in Polk County.

Candidates and their supporters are placing signs in residential lawns and at area businesses. And they're out pounding the pavement drumming up support for their candidacy for the Nov. 2 general election.

It's going to be a busy and heated election season. We already have a hot race brewing for the vacant Polk County Circuit Court Judge position. City councilors and mayors will be chosen in Dallas, Falls City, Independence and Monmouth, and there are state and national candidates and issues to debate.

These topics -- and many more -- will be addressed by writers submitting "Letters to the Editor" to the Itemizer-Observer during the next seven weeks.

Writers who would like to submit a letter endorsing a candidate or wanting to take a stand on an issue are welcome to do so. But a word of caution and a friendly reminder: please follow the I-O's longstanding letters to the editor policy concerning the length of letters on election-related subjects.

ALL election letters are limited to 100 words -- no exceptions. If your subject is related to an issue or candidate on the ballot, you get 100 words. Several letters during past election seasons have either been edited and reduced, sent back to the authors asking to shorten them to 100 words or they have gone unpublished because guidelines weren't followed.

The 100-word limit not only encourages letters and dialogue, but allows for the publication of as many different viewpoints from as many people as possible. The amount of news space available to publish letters is limited each week and is another reason for limiting the length to 100 words. The 100-word limit also makes the messages more effective -- a point succinctly made is much more likely to be read and remembered by the people you are trying to influence.

Form letters, or letters written by someone else and signed by you, will be automatically rejected. Those that appear questionable will be rejected. Authors must reside within the district they are writing about, and no letters from outside of Polk County will be published.

One other reminder about our policy concerning election letters: once you have written and we have published your letter, we will not accept any additional political letters from you during the current election season -- one per person.

All letters must be submitted by 10 a.m. on Mondays to be considered for publication. Not all letters submitted are accepted, and due to those space limitations previously mentioned some letters may be held until the following week's newspaper or may appear only on the I-O's website.

We look forward to sharing your views about candidates and issues during this election season.


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