"Text Your Vote" Ads Target Hillary Clinton Voters, Because That's What This Election Has Sadly Come To
The election is now only days away, but that doesn't mean that it's gotten any less crazy. On Wednesday, a number of Twitter accounts began circulating "Text Your Vote" ads targeting Clinton supporters, ostensibly in an effort to keep them away from the polls by making them think they had voted from home. The masterminds behind this plan of attack apparently hadn't thought it all the way through though, because people who texted the number listed on the ads got a message back saying that Hillary For America had not paid for the ads. The response message also offered the actual number you can text to subscribe to text message updates from the Clinton campaign.
An astute Twitter user, Robert McNees, reported the ads as a potential violation of Twitter's Terms of Service. Twitter Support initially replied saying that they were not against the rules — despite the fact that it was a clear move to disenfranchise voters — before going back on that decision and removing the offending tweets. The tweets are gone now, so there's no chance of them having their desired effect and convincing voters to stay away from the polls. The records of them, however, are yet another marker of where exactly this election has taken the country.
On the one hand, you have the Republican presidential nominee complaining about a rigged election, which he's done often enough and with enough gusto that a majority of his supporters believe him — despite the fact that he has no evidence for this. On the other hand, Donald Trump has gotten his supporters into such a fury that there are numerous promises of voter intimidation to come, plus overt attempts like this to trick Clinton supporters into not voting. This might seem more benign just because it doesn't involve camouflage-donning men with assault rifles, but in the end the desired result is the same, and it's a low blow to American democracy either way.
Can you imagine Mitt Romney inciting rifle-bearing poll watchers to come out on his behalf? John McCain of 2008 engaging in dirty tricks against Obama? George W. Bush claiming that the tight 2000 race was because Al Gore had cheated? Dick Cheney might have done it, but it at least would have been more subtle. The country is witnessing something totally new and nefarious, and ads trying to convince voters from one party that they can text in their vote is just the latest manifestation of it. The only way to make this disappear is to do exactly what these people don't want you to do — exercise your right as a citizen, and vote.