As a Napa County voter whose policy dream is to see greater public support for programs and services to help our children thrive, I did not have strong opinions about Measure C, the Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative. Until I read the sign. Now I am 100 percent in favor of it if for nothing else than their opponents’ tactics are egregious.
Although I know there are others, the sign I reads says “Vote No on C. Increases Traffic On 29." I have reviewed the measure and nowhere is there a shred of evidence suggesting any outcome of the measure will impact traffic. New for 21st century election cycles, the opposition is using “fake news” in their arguments and counting on the voters’ inability to know the difference and their aversion to traffic to sway votes.
With a passion for children and our future, I feel strongly about this as I saw the same tactic work to the detriment of thousands of Bay Area children. Leading up to the November 2016 election Marin Kids, the organization managing an initiative to establish a fund for children in that county, had strong polling and was on a winning track for a measure that would support things like early learning and after school programs. Until voters read the signs. In a county that loves its open space, signs scattered on roads from San Rafael to Nicasio read “Vote No on Measure A. Stop High Density Housing.” Again, there was no evidence to support that claim and although the signs were for the most part removed, the damage was done and the measure went down.
As citizens, we cannot stand by and watch this happen. Every day we as Californians and Americans fall prey to tactics like these that impact elections and as a result, policy. Every time our President talks about the millions of duplicate votes cast in California in 2016, he secures his base and further divides our state and country. And it scares me to think about policy outcomes around climate science resulting from misleading information coming from our country’s leaders.
Today, people across the political spectrum take advantage of the notion that voters don’t hear beyond the 30 second sound bite or read more than a paragraph if that on an issue. Too often we have proven them right. As citizens, it our job to be informed about the issues and form opinions based on the facts, not the fake news.
If you have a question, every campaign has someone eager to answer. Do your homework. Read the ballot handout. Whether it’s kids or oaks, the election process must remain fair, and signs like those appearing in Napa County make me afraid we are headed down a path that is anything but.