During every election cycle, special-interest groups designated as not-for-profit put out what are called “Report Cards” or “Voter Guides.” The information in them is meant to encourage those who receive them to vote for political candidates that are seen as supportive of that particular special interest group. Such guides don’t specifically say “vote for” or “against” any candidates because that would be against Internal Revenue Services rules governing not-for-profit entities.
This type of tactic is not new, but rose to prominence when it was seemingly perfected by the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. Back then, that group’s guides were distributed by religious organizations throughout the nation to devastating effect. It has been copied endlessly since.
Enter the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, which produced its own such voter report guide this election cycle. But that 28-page document — download it here — focused on the General Assembly and Metro Council now has many Chamber watchers shaking their heads — and not because of what it said.
A number of recipients of the guide either contacted NashvillePost.com or confirmed that they did not receive the Chamber-produced election effort in the mail until this past Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. As you know, Election Day was Tuesday.
Given the timing, one member of the Chamber stated, “It is worthless and was a total waste of money.”
Other Chamber members pointed out that, even if all of the guides had reached their intended recipients on Monday or Tuesday morning, they would have missed citizens who took part in early voting, which started on Oct. 17. According to the Davidson County Election Commission, 48.4 percent of active Metro voters voted early.
Michelle Lacewell, director of communications, marketing and public relations for the chamber, was understanding of the frustration of the group’s members.
“This was our first time to do this and we learned lessons,” Lacewell said. “We had production delays and worked to make sure all information was accurate. Our intention was they be delivered before early voting started. Our goal in future elections is to have an August delivery.”