Election Update as November Nears

Only 60 days remain until what may be one of the closest elections in American history. The Election Update will keep abreast of relevant topics and events in the election and provide a general background for voters. REGISTER TO VOTE: There is still time to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot. In fact, most states accept a national registration form, which can be found at www.fec.gov. Most absentee ballot requests are also available online or through town halls and local election officials. The 2000 election illustrated the importance of voting and the power every ballot holds. Groups such as justvote.com and Rock the Vote have used concerts, commercials and other advertisements to encourage people to vote in the upcoming election. On campus, the Cove distributed voter registration forms to all first-years. Democracy Matters also provided first-years with absentee ballots personalized for the student’s hometown. BATTLEGROUND STATES: America’s electoral system is based upon state votes and the candidate who receives the majority of the votes within that state receives all of the states’ electoral votes. Many states are predictable and the outcome is all but decided. In these states, campaigning is an almost hopeless cause, therefore residents are less likely to see many of the national campaigns and commercials. Campaigns have focused much of their time and money on the twenty states where the election is too close to call. Battleground states include Florida, New Hampshire, Missouri, Ohio, Nevada, Tennessee, Arkansas, Arizona, West Virginia, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Iowa, Oregon, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maine, Michigan and Washington. However, voting in the other 30 states is still important especially at the congressional and local level. 527 ADVOCACY GROUPS: Interestingly, many of the campaign messages in the election are not from the formal campaigns, but rather from special interest groups classified as 527s. These so-called 527s are named after their place in the Internal Revenue Service tax code, that allows these special interest groups to raise money for political groups, voter campaign mobilization and issue advocacy. These groups have become a way around campaign finance reform legislation. There is far more money being spent by liberal and pro-Kerry 527s. However, the Swift Boat Veterans, a conservative 527 group, has recently been the cause of much controversy. The groups issued an ad that questioned the legitimacy of John Kerry’s claims about his service in Vietnam. This ad has since stopped being televised . Although the Swift Boat Veterans are not associated or approved by George W. Bush, there was much public outcry for the President to react to their ads. Following the termination of the ad, the President stated that negative ads of this nature are “bad for the system” and voiced his displeasure.