Below is a press release from Warren Slocum.
PRESS RELEASE: Chief Elections Officer Asks AARP To Change Web Site: TV Commercial and Web Site Sends Wrong Message
Redwood City, CA - Warren Slocum, San Mateo CountyÂ´s Chief Elections Officer today, the deadline to register to vote in California, called on the American Association of Retired Persons to change their web site entitled "donÂ´t vote.com." Slocum said he is worried that the message may discourage people from going to the polls.
While the Chief Elections Officer recognizes the good work and dedication of the AARP, he said that "California spends a great deal of money to register voters, to educate voters and to get voters to cast ballots. Other organizations like the League of Women Voters, political parties and campaigns do the same. Everyone believes that large turnouts strengthen Democracy. "I am concerned that the commercial and web site may have an unintended consequence of dissuading qualified voters to cast a ballot," Slocum said.
In California, turnout rates vary from county to county but at the last statewide election the turnout was around 36% -- we need to find ways to get more people to vote and advertising plays a role in that effort. But our public messages need to be carefully crafted.
Slocum admits that the web site -- Web Link -- has a good side with a message that asks voters to find out where the candidates stand on the issues. It is always important for a voter to study candidate and issue information and be prepared to vote before going into the polling place.
But the TV commercial and the web site video features several people from different walks of life saying donÂ´t vote -- donÂ´t vote -- donÂ´t vote. It is repeated seven times before someone says, "until you know the issues."
My job is to increase participation rates and given people's busy lives; the constant bombardment of advertising messages; and the fact that one vote can change the outcome of an election, I don't want the "donÂ´t vote" message to be the only message that is heard before a voter changes the channel or clicks through to a new web page.
Contact: Warren Slocum, Phone 650.363.4988, Fax 650.363.1903, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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