Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- The election is less than two months away and already, many feel overwhelmed with political advertisements. And this year, we could see more than usual.
The race in the 24th Congressional District between Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle and Dan Maffei is one of the closest in the country and it’s drawing national attention, as well as donations.
“I think the fact checking is one of the most important things we can do in a democracy,” said SU political reporting professor Charlotte Grimes.
There’s plenty to check as it gets closer to November our TV shows are padded with political claims, promises and accusations.
If you listen to the end of an ad, you can catch whether it’s by a candidate or another organization. From there, you can search the organization and its values.
“You can't even take for granted that non-partisan means non-partisan. Who have they actually supported? What positions have they taken, and that will give you a much better clue than what they might say about themselves,” Grimes said.
There are ways now to check those questions within seconds. As soon as you see an ad on your TV, you can use a phone application called "Ad Hawk
" to find out exactly who created the ad, the money behind it, and even the organization's top contributors.
Groups in the category of "social welfare organizations" are not required to make their donors public, so for those ads, you won't be able to find out the source of their money. But organizations like the Sunlight Foundation, which created the "Ad Hawk" app, are dedicated to helping you learn everything you can before heading to the voting booth.
“These ads, people are spending millions and millions of dollars on. It’s going to be one of the most expensive elections ever, so the public should know who is trying to spend money to influence their vote,” explained Sunlight Foundation Media Director Liz Bartolomeo.
“As Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe.’ He was an incredibly wise man and the truth still stands,” said Grimes.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, both candidates have raised about $1.1 million for this election. But, money isn’t everything. The last time these two candidates ran against each other in 2010, Dan Maffei raised nearly four times the amount of money and lost to Ann Marie Buerkle.
On the Web --PolitiFact.comFactCheck.org