Saturday, November 04, 2006

Asterisks & Disclaimers

"An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry."

-T.S. Eliot

Next Tuesday is the day we get to tell our government exactly what we think, will you be a casual observer or will you rock the vote? I am hoping it will be the latter of the two. Here in California, we seem to be experiencing a good bit of voter fatigue. The Sacramento Bee is estimating that only 55 percent of eligible California voters will be casting a vote, but in what is being called a "growing trend," 44% of the vote will be by absentee ballot. 44% seems like a pretty large number to me, but then again, it might just be the way all of us will be voting in the future, given the problems that have been occurring in recent years with electronic voting devices. In some ways I would prefer voting by absentee ballot from now on. I did my research, and I educated myself on the candidates and issues, so when I marked my ballot, I was confident in how I felt about things. With the election just three days away, I know that I wouldn't have changed my final decisions, and I managed to arrive at my choices not by the dirty ads from either side, in fact, it was in spite of., recently did an analysis of the dirty politicking taking place this voting season, and while both sides did very well in the fine art of mudslinging, but it was the republican party that stood out in the airing of negative ads with a whopping 91% negativity nationwide. The democrats finished the mud-toss with 81%. Sigh. I am sure the ridiculous remarks made by John Kerry earlier this week, may have actually pushed the bar up a little bit. While I understand, and believe that he was attempting humor, and not mocking the troops, it was still a cringe-worthy remark. Leave the sarcastic humor for the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. I don't want a stand-up comedienne for a representative, I want someone who takes the issues on, head first, and brings about positive change... not the same old clever politics as usual. Don't you? No matter what side you vote on, wouldn't you like to see an end to the same old rhetoric?

Here in California, something kind of interesting happened this past week. A mailing was sent out to approximately 500,000 registered democrats, of which I was one, which was titled, "Voter Information Guide For Democrats." On the front is a picture of U.S. Senator, Diane Feinstein, and suggests that this guide be used when casting your vote on Tuesday. Handy, isn't it? Not really. See, this particular mailer is being looked at by some California democrats, including Diane Feinstein, as being at best, "misleading." The flier implies that democratic politicians, including Feinstein, will be voting "No" on several propositions such as 86 and 87, both of which are being backed my democrats. "This is not the official slate of the Democratic party, because we are Yes on 87 not No on 87," says Art Torres, California Democratic party leader.

So what keeps this from being actual fraud? Technically no laws have been broken. The firm which produced the mailer covered their actions by including on the front cover, all the usual asterisks and disclaimers. Some might still consider this to be a dirty trick, and I might agree, but I want to think in a broader scope here. So, here is what I have to ask about this situation, is it a dirty trick, if the average voter doesn't bother to read the entire mailer to see just who is supplying the content of the mailer? If someone, who hasn't made up their mind yet, gets this mailer and skims the information and arrives at the conclusion that Senator Feinstein plans to vote "NO" on a certain proposition, when in fact she is one of those endorsing the proposition, isn't there some fraud involved? Do you read all the voter information that comes in the mail? What percentage of the ads and mailers that you see on TV or read from the mail, affects your decision on election day?

The "Voter Information Guide" was prepared by the for profit firm of Levine & Associates of Sherman Oaks, California. When they were asked about their practices, Levine responded that he is a "lifelong democrat," and that the information, "reflects his personal opinion based on years of experience, not as a result of the amount of money he recieved from individual campaigns." Campaign finance records indicate that Levine recieved $300,000 from oil companies, and $75,000 from tobacco companies opposing prop 86. I think Senator Feinstein said it best...

"I think this is just one good indication that we really need to take a look and see if we need to strengthen federal law to prevent this kind of thing from happening."

-Diane Feinstein : Republican Mudslinging On An Industrial Scale

California Capitol Building
Sacramento, California
October 24th, 2006


Suzanne R said...

Oregon has vote-by-mail and has had for some years now. I really like it, as I can study the candidates, measures and underlying issues, then have that information handy when I mark my ballot. It has proved to be a good way to go here in this state.

Jessica said...

All I can say (ok ok, not all I CAN say, you know me, i can ramble on forever) but all I am going to say is......VOTE PEOPLE!!! vote for republicans, vote for democrats, vote for Kermit the Frog for goodness sake, but VOTE!!!!

(p.s... suzanne..yup, that was a real nice thing about Oregon. I'm a former Duck myself, and I truly liked the vote-by-mail process for a number of reasons..I think it is a model that should be examined and considered by other states.)

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Good-bloody-grief! I've come to expect untruths and half-truths in mailers, but that's beyond the pale!