Voters: Get ready, get set, go! If you plan to vote in Tuesday's primary election, do your homework about the candidates on the ballot. Just look around you for a wealth of information about the candidates and the election. In fact, thanks to the Internet, it has never been easier to be a well-informed voter.
Did you see the Know Your Candidates section in the Aug. 16 edition of the St. Petersburg Times? In this special section produced for local voters, the Times news department collected information on all the candidates' backgrounds, financial holdings, and positions on issues and compiled it in a tab-sized section that is easy for voters to use.
If you missed the section, you can still find it — on the Times Web site at tampabay.com/kyc.
The section also contains a sample ballot provided by the Supervisor of Elections Office, so you can see how each race will look on the ballot. Sample ballots were also mailed to registered voters by the supervisor. On the supervisor's Web site, www. pascovotes.com/, you can access the candidates' campaign finance reports and see who is contributing to whom and how the candidates are spending their campaign contributions.
Want even more information about the candidates before voting? You may get it in spades by going to the candidates' campaign Web sites. The addresses for those sites are listed with the candidate profiles in the Know Your Candidates section or may be found through a simple Google search.
If you want more objective information than you are likely to find on a candidate's campaign site or received in the mail, check the Times archives on the Web. Reporters provided extensive coverage in the daily newspaper.
Don't forget to check the Times' two political blogs, The Buzz and Bay Buzz, for new postings about politics and the campaign every day. Reach them by going to blogs.tampabay.com/buzz and blogs.tampabay.com/baybuzz.
The Times Editorial Board has examined the backgrounds of the candidates running for office and conducted personal interviews with them. The board's recommendations in each race have been appearing on the Opinion page of the newspaper for a week or two. A synopsis is reproduced again elsewhere on this page. They also are collected in their entirety on the Times Web site at tampabay.com/opinion.
Early voting, which is done in person, concluded Saturday. Absentee ballots may be returned until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley reported more than 10,100 people, or 3.6 percent of the electorate, had voted by mid-afternoon Friday via absentee or early voting.
For everyone else, the polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday. If you vote, you have a duty to cast an informed vote. With so many resources available in 2008, there is no excuse for not being educated about the candidates and issues.