Voter Service

Terry Frank says

I have to say that being disappointed in the League of Women Voters is nothing new.

I guess that’s not surprising, given the “you’re 100% with me or 100% against me” mentality that seems to have grown amongst the social conservatives segment of the Republican Party. By definition, any organization whose mission is to provide an unbiased format for debate is not 100% with (or against) anyone.

Terry refers to the Nashville League cancelling a candidate forum because Bob Corker declined to participate. Of course, reviews from the Knoxville forum indicate that it was a two-against-one slugfest, so it seems to me that this was a reasonable decision for a truly unbiased organization. In all honesty, I don’t know why Corker declined the invitation — whether he just didn’t want to go, or if there was a scheduling conflict. Somehow, I’m not inclined to jump to the conclusion that he “just didn’t want to,” given the editorial assessment from the link above:

If Bob Corker doesn’t win the nomination, it will be because of some other, unforeseen issue that arises before the Aug. 7 primary election. It won’t be because of the issues raised or the personal attacks that he deftly parried during the Knoxville debate, nor will he lose on the issues he has successfully made himself clear on throughout the early rounds of campaigning.

He’s just not a fraidy-cat kind of guy.

On a related note…
Locally, the League of Women Voters has conducted two candidate forums in preparation for the Anderson County general election. The first (and most lively) was on June 27, but there have been developments since that haven’t yet made it to the public eye.

The League, sensitive to the fact that candidates’ words can be taken out of context and misused, prohibits recording except by the press. All candidates sign an agreement not to do so, and one of the rules printed clearly in the event program reads as follows:

  • Tape and other material of the Candidates Forum is for the exclusive use of LWVOR and is not to be sold or reproduced without express consent of LWVOR.

In definance of this rule (which would seem to be a copyright violation), Energy Media managed to get hold of a recording, airing selected clips on a program which they pay Channel 12 to air. Since Energy Media is employed by local candidates as a campaign consultant, the program was decidedly biased, and the local League is furious.

The repercussions have already begun, as candidates have expressed concern about the incident. Without assurance that the League’s policies to ensure fairness will be followed, there is a very real risk that candidates will elect not to participate in the future.

That is bad for the League, and worse for the public. It’s my understanding that Channel 12 has pulled the taped program from future airings, and that they are likely to be much more diligent about the content of paid programming in the future.

It’s too much to hope for that Channel 12 will cancel the show, but I’ll hope anyway.

Sit with any group of local League members (who aren’t all women, by the way) for an informal chat, and you’ll find great diversity of opinion — many of them quite strong — all over the political spectrum. However, if you sit in on a Board meeting and watch the planning process for voter service efforts, you’ll find a group of people who check their individual preferences at the door for the sake of a truly unbiased process.

I never want to live in a place where there’s a requirement of total agreement on all things… there must be discourse for growth and improvement to flourish. More importantly, it sounds too much like the failed “iron curtain” politics of the past.

3 Responses to “Voter Service”

  1. on 09 Jul 2006 at 12:29 pm Anotherthing2

    Based on numerous criticisms for past behavior, it should not come as a surprise that rules have been violated. It would seem that the attitude that “rules are for everyone else” and “the ends justify the means” have become common place for some in order to win. In an idealized world, voters would take this “win at all costs” into consideration and realize that the individuals that candidates hire are a direct reflection of those candidates and their integrity too.

    I’m sure the local League does a lot of good things in an unbiased manner but I stopped going to these seemingly staged performances a number of election cycles ago. Plainly I have always disliked the way the League handled candidate debates locally, as it seemed the candidates packed the house with supporters and the questions submitted by those attending were not to glean information but to either embarrass the opponent or help their candidate. Obviously this happens as I’ve seen the moderator pass over particular questions, probably for a good reason, and regardless of intent, it does give the appearance of bias. At least this seemed to be how it worked when I attended.

    Personally I would like to see the League sponsor the debates but turn the questioning over to the editors of the three local print papers. There could be a way for the local print media to have citizens send them questions that they would like to have answered too. Although there are those that say the editors are biased in their opinions too and some would question why only print media I think it is a good place to start. I’m sure that this isn’t the total answer and there are other ideas that could be incorporated but I think the local league should consider modifying their procedures for debates in the future.

  2. on 10 Jul 2006 at 4:57 pm Daco

    Energy Media and its owner do seem to ignore the rules.

    I had been planning to vote for one of the candidates that Beauchamp is backing, but in recent days have decided that I just can’t do it.
    This candidate’s opponents are competent people and I just can’t do anything to continue to empower Mr. Beauchamp.

    If no one voted for any of the candidates that he is pushing, his political capitol would soon shrivel up and disappear.

    Maybe this is a little simplistic, but his candidates need to learn to steer clear of the appearance of impropriety…and Beauchamp does appear slimy.

  3. on 10 Jul 2006 at 5:25 pm daco

    Since my last post I found this in the Oak Ridger.

    (David Stuart’s letter, last on page)

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