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Ad Campaigns Make Voters' Job Harder

October 06, 2002

I quite agree with John Balzar's Oct. 2 commentary, "Quality May Serve Us Better Than Quantity at the Polls," most especially his observation that preparing oneself to vote--by researching the issues--can be a very difficult process.

I have never missed voting in an election, including primaries. Ever since I began to vote, I have always been extremely frustrated by what strikes me as an intentional tactic to keep voters confused. Nowhere is this more apparent than with state initiatives, which really seem to have become an industry all their own. When the sample ballots show up in the mail, I'm always amazed at how different a sense I get about each initiative when I read it in plain print, as opposed to what I've just heard in the ad campaigns--they're never the same!

I wish that campaign finance reform had taken place in a real way, not the emasculated do-nothing measure that Congress passed this year. I wish it were illegal for candidates or initiative campaigns to buy unlimited advertising. I wish the media exposure for candidates was limited to free time given equally to all runners, or limited to bought time allotted in equal amounts for all candidates, so that these elections were not merely responses to who has the better ad campaign.

Bruce Albertine

Port Hueneme


Balzar presents an interesting but inherently dangerous argument on why we need not be concerned over lack of voter turnout in elections across the country. His argument that only those who have done their homework on the issues and candidates are in an informed position to cast a ballot smacks of the same logic that has been used throughout history to deny voting rights to the working class, women and minorities.

In a democracy, everyone, no matter how ill-informed, has the right to vote and should exercise it. That's the price you pay for democracy.

Ed Boland

Brooklyn, N.Y.

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