The primaries are over. The State Fair is here. Campaign commercials are just around the corner.
It can mean only one thing: we're officially in election season.
Given the importance of fairness and the need to ensure adequate space for voices to be heard, that means outlining some rules for the Bulletin's opinion pages.
We appreciate the contributions from Bulletin letter-writers year-round. They help make these pages the engaging, provocative sounding-board we like it to be.
We expect more of the same during election season.
So if you're looking to be engaged in the political process through letters to the editor - and we hope you are - be sure to note the following rules, which take effect for all campaign-related letters received beginning this week:
-Letters to the editor must be no longer than 300 words. Some people argue they can't make their point in that amount of space. You can. If you can't, we'll edit them for space.
Also note that the Bulletin will only publish letters of endorsement - not Viewpoints. Candidates will be allowed to submit a Viewpoint in the following weeks and respond to letters to the editor if they wish.
-We won't publish more than one letter from a writer endorsing the same candidate or issue. This allows for as many writers to weigh in as possible.
Of note: writers can submit rebuttal letters, which will not be considered additional endorsement letters. Please note that the Bulletin reserves the right to pull the plug on recurring arguments played out through letters. Remember that getting in the last word is not necessarily synonymous with adding to an informed discussion.
-Deadlines: To allow rebuttals, letters raising new issues will not be published if received after Friday, Oct. 19. The final deadline for all other letters will be one week before our last publication heading into the election. That date is Friday, Oct. 26.
As Election Day gets closer, newspapers tend to see a much higher letter volume. Know that we will edit letters for space in those closing weeks to accommodate as many submissions as possible.
-Remember that the Bulletin will be focusing its legislative campaign coverage on candidates from within Senate District 53. Letters in support of candidates from outside Senate District 53 will receive low priority.
-Letters on local races will take highest priority. Also, we won't knowingly publish form letters. We want you to sound off, but we want you to use your own words - not a campaign's.
-When writing, be sure to keep your focus on the candidates and the issues. This isn't the place for personal attacks. We've no doubt that campaigns will turn ugly as the season continues. Our hope is that the Bulletin's opinion pages will be a place for respectful, thought-provoking debate -- not petty sniping.
We hope this sounds fair. The idea here, as always, is to provide a robust forum open to all voices and political stripes. And as many as possible.
With that, let the games begin.
Send letters to Editor Mike Longaecker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Snail mail submissions can be sent to 8420 City Centre Drive. Writers should include their name, city of residence and a phone number for verification. Got questions? Email Longaecker at email@example.com.