Voters: Barrage of commercials could be turnoff for turnout

February 17, 2004|HERB BROCK

Don Mize and Kenneth Whitehouse were walking around the elevated track at First Christian Church's Christian Life Center this morning. The two men looked down below to the gym floor where a steady stream of voters were casting ballots and then commented on the election.

To hear Mize and Whitehouse tell it, the reason they were walking and the people were voting was to get away from their television sets, radios and telephones.

"Because of the totally obnoxious number of commercials and recorded messages (by and for Republican Alice Forgy Kerr and Democrat Ben Chandler in the race for the 6th District U.S. House seat), I seriously considered not voting, as sort of a protest," said Mize, who voted anyway.

"Yeah, you couldn't turn on the TV or radio without seeing or hearing one of their commercials," said Whitehouse, who also voted nonetheless. "And after the hours and hours and hours of being bombarded with these commercials over the last few weeks, I still don't know what either of them stands for. I know they're against their opponent, but that's about it."


Cathy Averett was another disgruntled walker/voter.

"The commercials were bad enough, but you could turn off the TV. But you couldn't really turn off your phone, and it rang constantly, especially at dinner time, with recorded messages from people representing the two candidates," said Averett. "It got to the point that when I answered the phone and the recorded message started, I'd just hang up.

"Maybe there should be some sort of law prohibiting these commercials and messages two weeks before an election," she said. "Everybody's concerned about low voter turnout, but these barrages of commercials are going to be a turnoff."

The same anger at the TV and radio commercials and phone messages of the Kerr-Chandler campaign was voiced at other voting stations around Danville, including the one at Lexington Avenue Baptist Church.

"The constant commercials were onerous," said Jim Brown. "It's disgusting that the candidates would spend all that campaign money and take up all that TV and radio time to just throw mud at each other. They never discussed a single issue."

Jodell Brown, Jim Brown's spouse, agreed.

"You'd think the candidates would use that valuable time to give us a positive message about what they would do for the district as our congressman, what they thought of big issues," she said. "But they just used it to be negative. I really got tired of seeing and hearing both of them."

To find out the positions of the two candidates on the issues, the Browns said they read newspapers articles covering the campaign and letters to the editor.

"And I approve this message"

At Boyle County High School, the negative response to what they considered to be the negative media campaigning by both candidates was the same. One precinct worker concluded his comment on the campaign by mocking the way both candidates concluded their commercials.

"My message to the candidates is please no more commercials. And I approve this message," he said with a laugh.

Meanwhile, the number of people sending the most important message of the day to the candidates - their votes - was fairly light but steady in the early voting in Danville.

As of 7:30 a.m. today, 46 of the 694 registered voters at the Lancaster Road precinct and 39 of the 790 registered voters at the Lexington Road precinct had cast ballots at their voting booths at First Christian Church.

As of 8 a.m., 25 of the 890 registered voters at Lexington Avenue Baptist had voted. As of 8:30 a.m., 50 of the 905 registered voters at Boyle High had cast ballots.

"Voting has not been very heavy, but it has been pretty steady," said Boyle County Clerk Denise Curtsinger. "We had a few minor machine malfunctions, but they have all been taken care of."

Curtsinger's registration books show 12,011 registered Democrats, 5,395 Republicans and 1,133 "other." She predicted that 25 to 27 percent of them would vote by the time polls close at 6 p.m. today.

"Our vote has not been real heavy but it has been steady, and things have been going very smoothly," said Mercer County Clerk Ronnie Compton, whose books show 10,907 Democrats, 3,533 Republicans and 813 "other."

In Garrard County, voting also was light but steady, according to Deputy County Clerk Barbara Gay. Garrard has 5,982 Republicans, 4,002 Democrats and 559 "other."

In Lincoln County, the office of County Clerk George Spoonamore reported an "overall light" turnout of the county's 8,855 Democrats, 6,469 Republicans and 567 "other" voters.

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