10/05/2016

Oct. 9 debate: Your turn to take the mic

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Most people know that next Sunday's presidential debate will use a town hall format and field questions directly from the audience. What they may not know is that questions will not be limited to the audience in the auditorium at Washington University in St. Louis, making this a great opportunity to get your issues on the table.

The Commission on Presidential Debates is reserving a portion of the second debate for questions submitted online, and this format should generate big participation from a broad spectrum of voters. It's all happening at PresidentialOpenQuestions.com, where you can submit your own question or vote your support for those already posted. Moderators have agreed to consider using the 30 most popular questions as part of the debate.

So what's the most effective way to get your voice into the mix?

Probably not by minting a new question, since there are more than 9,000 questions under consideration so your chances of getting a new entry to rise to 30-most-popular status are slim. In fact, you run the risk of undercutting support for an important issue by splitting votes among nearly identical questions. (Think "Saturday Night Live" guest hosts Larry David and Tracy Morgan coming up short for best comedy guest actor at the 2016 Emmy Awards.)

Thankfully, the site makes it easy to find a good bandwagon to jump on without spending hours weeding through thousands of questions. Just enter keywords like "public schools," "standardized testing," "charter schools," "student debt," "job growth"—whatever you want—and odds are that you'll find a decent option for the issue you really care about. Find it, click on "Vote!" and you're on the way to getting that question to the top of the list.

It's been a crazy campaign, but here is a chance to get the entire country focused on the issues you really care about—the ones that directly affect you, your family, your workplace and your community.

Don't waste it!

[Mike Rose]