Come just two days after Halloween, half the country is going to get the fright of their lives, while other half will rejoice with a win.

Election Day is almost here!

Only one side might elect a president and the other half of the country will curse their misfortune at being a sliver away from having presidential control for a long, long four years.

Most have already made up their mind for president. The real contest is the Sixth District Congressional race between incumbent Jim Gerlach and Democratic challenger Lois Murphy.

This has been a very strange year indeed for campaigning. Never before has the Internet held such power and educated so many.

Use of the Internet by politicians can be stifling. While I've covered hundreds of borough and township meetings and several local elections, this is my first shot at a "big time" election.

Give me borough council or a Charlestown Supervisors election any day.

During the conventions, I got hourly emails, concerning the presidential candidates, and everything that occurred in New York and Boston.

But nothing can compare, in sheer numbers, to the daily onslaught of emails that I've received, as a reporter, from the two Sixth District congressional candidates. It's gotten uglier by the day - this amazing campaign - with all its national implications.

Gerlach asserted during an interview that Murphy was either for, or against, the marriage penalty - a small time Congressional vote. Frankly, I don't remember which way she would have voted, if she'd had the chance, and does it really matter?

Gerlach had made an offhand remark about Murphy and the marriage penalty that really didn't fit in with the article I was writing, though I added it to the end of the story because I thought it might better inform the populace, just a little.

The Murphy camp didn't miss reading that filler. Murphy emails soon magically appeared, discounting Gerlach's ascertain.

Gerlach rebutted, and Murphy responded.

For a while there, the marriage penalty seemed to take on epic proportions in this election. I liberally made use of my delete key during the marriage penalty debate so I missed how it turned out.

For everyone involved, I hope that everything got straightened out, and it was decided just who is in favor of what.

I can't tell you for sure who pays for the television attacks, although one negative Murphy ad shows her so unflatteringly that the images must be enhanced.

But, then, a mailing to Sixth District voters shows a shockingly awful photo of Gerlach, eyes popping, with what looks like a huge zit on his nose.

How can they make each other look so bad?

I asked one campaign where they got such photos, but got no answer and expected none.

Of course, it's usually soft money that pays for the worst of the television commercials and the candidates will tell you that they have no control. They might even say that they have never seen those ads themselves. Although by now, we likely all see those attacks in our nightmares.

At the tap of a computer button, we can get Gerlach's track record of votes in Congress from a number of websites, or check the facts of a presidential debate, courtesy of the Annenburg Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

The candidate websites are something good that has happened to campaigning and easily allow the Internet surfer to become more informed. Gerlach and Murphy also send out mailings that bring voters up to speed, although beware of the attacks.

Spare the hate; the World Wide Web is something about this election that is a real improvement on past ones. Give them credit - both candidates have electronically linked many campaign newspaper articles to their sites - even when an article seemed to reflect negatively on that particular campaign.

Know what the really funny thing is? Gerlach and Murphy markedly differ on many of the issues and when all the smoke and mirrors disappear, it is still possible to make a decision based on politics and a politician's opinion.

Why not run campaigns on ideas?

So, for those who care little about the marriage penalty, but are more interested in the war in Iraq or No Child Left Behind legislation in the schools, run to the web.

Voters are much better off choosing their political leaders because of a politician's views and ideological positions, rather than because of the hateful carnival atmosphere of many campaigns.

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