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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Let's Help the League of Women Voters!

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Ken Grant
Ken Grant
Ken Grant has spent most of his life in Delaware, loves being in all three counties, works for the only U.S.-based manufacturer of Thin Layer Chromatography Plates, is married to an incredible woman who is willing to put up with his antics and is the father of two teenagers who have agreed to wait at least another 20 years before writing the books about their “adventurous” childhood.
Here’s the thing:
On Thursday, November 14, 2013, I attended a candidate forum for the mayoral race in Newark, Delaware. This was held at the Newark Senior Center and moderated by the League of Women Voters. Just before the forum began, the moderator said that there was to be no video or audio recording of the forum, except for media outlets, and that everyone in the audience was to turn any phones or devices off (not just silence).
Click Here to read the News Journal post on the event.
As far as I was concerned, this was a public event being held to educate the public – and I would argue that I’m also a media outlet of sorts (yeah, that’s up for debate) – and I started recording some of the forum – here’s a couple of those videos:
Newark Mayoral Forum 1
Newark Mayoral Forum 1
Newark Mayoral Forum 2
Newark Mayoral Forum 2

and here’s where I stopped recroding because someone had a Newark Police Officer tell me to stop:

Newark Mayoral Forum 3
Newark Mayoral Forum 3

After the forum, I asked the moderator about the policy – she explained that the League of Women Voters did not want anyone posting anything out of context that could make a candidate look bad and reflect poorly on the League.

Later that evening, a considerable amount of research (yea, Google was involved) was done by a bunch of good facebook friends (I’m looking at you, Matt) which showed that this issue is apparently being handled by most chapters of the League of Women Voters the same way (emphasis added by me) :

What can we do to ensure that parts of our candidate debate are not captured on cell phones and broadcast in some way? 1. Federal Level Races – Announce at the beginning of the debate that cell phones should be turned off as a matter of courtesy and that unauthorized videos are not allowed because the FCC requires that a debate must not be edited and must be broadcast in its entirety, either live or reasonably soon after it takes place. Realistically, there is no way to guarantee that someone won’t capture some video or audio without our knowledge so a disclaimer should also be put in the guidelines for the debate. The League wants to ensure that information is not manipulated to create false or misleading impressions; no candidate should be allowed to use or edit the footage for campaign purposes.2. State and Local Level Races – the same advice applies at the local and state level, but you should also check state and local laws.

I had a good discussion with an official at the FCC on Monday, who said the FCC has no jusrisdiction over the internet and any rules they have for broadcasters do not apply here.

According to the News Journal post, the League of Women Voters here in Delaware may consider a change to the rules:Walsh, who sits on the League of Women Voters of Delaware, said the organization might reevaluate the rule at the start of the next election cycle.
I think it would be most helpful for the League of Women Voters to stream their candidate forums and/or record the events and post them online. However, I think the organization (made up of some great volunteers) may need some help with equipment and expertise to make that happen.

This is where the community comes in.

If you are willing to help the League of Women Voters with recording, posting, and/or streaming their events, please contact the League and let them know how you are willing to help.

Realistically, you may only have to handle one or two forums every couple of years – I think that’s a small investment that could have significant returns as we engage and educate more people in the public process.

Thanks for being part of our great state of neighbors!

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