Saturday essay: A public smearing
Americans for Limited Government (ALG) stands for lots of great things — free markets, private property rights and core American liberties. But the libertarian group laid a rotten egg this election cycle with its “Vote History Audit.”
The “audit of public voting records in your neighborhood” mailing of Oct. 22 — supposedly a get-out-the-vote effort — turned into a bush-league, error-filled exercise that smacked of decidedly un-libertarian Big Brotherism.
One of the 2.75 million people in 19 states targeted in the mailing was my younger daughter. ALG says “public voting records” indicate that she didn't vote in 2004.
Well, there's a good reason for that — she was 14 at the time. And her name was part of no “public voting records” then.
One of my newest neighbors across the street also was listed. She voted in neither 2004 nor 2008, ALG claims. Funny, but the neighbor at this address who supposedly didn't vote didn't even live there then.
The group's mailer stated it “wanted to present you with findings of past civic participation in your community.” Sounds like a direct lift from a banana republic's propaganda manual. As the saying goes, ain't nobody's business but your own.
But, based on news accounts from across the country, ALG publicly smeared a lot of folks in a lot of states on a lot of streets in a lot of neighborhoods.
“Data-entry errors” by a “contractor” are being blamed. And while Rick Manning, ALG's communications director, insists the errors are statistically small, he told me Americans for Limited Government will decide if it will attempt to determine exactly what percentage of the mailings were inaccurate.
It's the least it could do.
— Colin McNickle
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.