Chocolatespoon: Emily’s Musings

Slate mailers

Posted on: November 2, 2006

3 more voter guides came in the mail today, and they looked a bit strange — it was really hard to figure out who is behind them (what, no web site??) But I didn’t look closely at the names, just piled them up to transcribe into a blog entry to share with you (since I do like to share).

So I picked up the first, just called “Your Ballot Guide”, and googled it and found a whole bunch of information I didn’t know about these mailers, known as “slate mailers.”

Slate mailers leave even savvy voters scratching their heads (Capitol Weekly, 11/05)

Packaged to look like it is an official party platform, slate mail is, more often than not, produced by for-profit organizations that auction off their
collection of endorsements to the highest bidder.

The Stealth Campaign: Experimental Studies of Slate Mail in California (Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Atlanta, GA., September 2-5, 1999)

If scholars have given too little attention to campaign mail, they have entirely overlooked the particular phenomenon known in California as “slate mail.” Although political “slates” are known in other states, they usually consist simply of cards or similar materials containing a list of candidates nominated by a political party. Typically, they are produced and distributed by the party, on a relatively small scale. In California, although slate mailers occasionally originate from parties, they are usually published by private entrepreneurs, some of whom mail millions of pieces per election.

Slate mailers — pay for play on CA Prop. 87

Instead of being sensible efforts to inform citizens, many slate mailers are actually extortion rackets — pay us, or we’ll endorse the other side. By producing an ostensibly “Democratic” ballot slate, but with reversed endorsements on a few races, these mailers trick voters into casting votes they wouldn’t have done if fully informed.

For-profit ‘voters guides’ called misleading” (SignOnSanDiego, June 5, 2006)

“It’s a really sleazy business and if you read the fine print, you’ll figure out it’s a sham,” Durfee said. “It’s a for-profit business and has nothing to do with party politics. All it has to do with is making money.”

Dan Walters: Mailbox is today’s war zone (SacBee, 10/11/06)

As a voter shuffles through stacks of slate mailers, the only clue to the motives behind their elaborately named sponsoring “organizations” is that recommendations for which money changed hands are marked by asterisks.

Ok, so taking a closer look at the three I received and looking for things that seem out of place…

The main thing that stands out is that all three of them (“Your Ballot Guide”, “The Council of Concerned Women Voters” and “Voter Information Guide for Democrats”) all have no for Prop 87 (yet all the other guides I’ve looked at have endorsed it

So anyway, take these mailers with a good grain of salt…

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