After 11 years of being old enough to cast my vote, I finally felt the sting of voter harassment this campaign season. It’s a term that I don’t use loosely, and I’ve refrained from speaking out about voter harassment with the idea that maybe I was being too sensitive about the enthusiasm and persistence that one of the Oregon State Representative candidates has had in contacting our family.
The feeling that pushed me to call the candidate’s outreach “voter harassment” however when in less than 48 hours I received three political mailers from her campaign committee, two phone calls from her office, and a volunteer pushing her campaign agenda on my doorstep. The closer we get to November 2nd the more aggressive attempts to contact voters get, and in some cases candidates and their endorsers are falling to voter harassment to push voters to respond.
I wish that I had kept all of the campaign material that I’ve received this year from the candidates, and particularly in the case of the individual running for State Representative. It boggles the mind at how many man-hours and campaign dollars are spent to spur voters to the polls, and there must be a better way for candidates to get in front of their target audiences without harassing responsible voters time and again with propaganda.
Where outreach crossed the line of voter harassment for our family, and where it is apparent that there is waste in our Candidate’s spending, was this campaign season. During the campaign of a single candidate we have received upwards of 15 mailers, 4 phone calls (all of which we spoke to the volunteers on the phone – this is not counting the many hang-ups and voice-mails we’ve received), and two volunteers at our doorstep with an armful of even more information on the candidate. This is not responsible campaigning or community outreach, this is simply voter harassment.
Voter harassment seems to be a growing problem nationwide, not just within Oregon State. Just by Googling the term Voter Harassment, over 740,000 results are found, many of them claiming voters feel intimidated and pushed to vote for a certain bill or candidate. There are several articles that have been written in response to voter harassment, proposing that steps need to be taken to protect voters.
In a country that touts the individual right to vote, voter harassment can not continue. Bullying, threatening or harassing voters takes away their right to vote based on their own thoughts and needs, skewing the populous and negating our ability to make decisions to strengthen our communities.
Personally, I will not cast my vote for any candidate or group that relies on voter harassment for their campaign strategy, regardless of their views on current issues. I refuse to live in a world where bullies are encouraged and allowed to prosper within our government or private sectors, and candidates who use voter harassment do not deserve to be put into office where they will have more power and resources to harass citizens.
As a business owner and responsible citizen, I will continue to place my vote with the candidates and legislation that I feel will be most beneficial for my community and the country as a whole. Voter harassment, negative campaigning, slander and intimidation should not be a condoned part of driving voters to the poles, and those who continue to use those tactics will not get my vote.
Writer’s note: During the writing of this article, the mail came and I received another 2 mailers for the candidate I mention above – putting the mail I have received from her at over 17 pieces.
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