Political Junkies know that the state is holding an election on May 18th to ask voters to approve an 18% increase in the sales tax rate. Naturally, many Arizonans don't have a clue that there's an election coming, so each side will spend a great deal of effort to ensure that its voters show up at the polls.
The biggest direct beneficiaries of the tax increase would obviously be the people who receive the services that the tax increase would fund. Supporters want to get those groups to the polls, but it's expensive to identify and contact them. Of course there's an easy way to reach this constituency...you can use the government infrastructure that is designed to serve them as a tool to inform them.
Of course it's illegal to use government resources in an effort to influence the election, but that doesn't really slow people down. That's why my kids came home from school with a flyer telling me about the election and informing me of all the bad things that would happen to the school if the tax were to be rejected.
They even had special instructions to hand the flyer directly to me so it didn't get lost in the bottom of the backpack with the math homework, permission slips and gummy bears.
School officials feel justified using government resources to influence an election because it's such a "good cause." They also claim that they are not actually telling people how to vote and that the flyers are balanced.
I would respond that the flyers are not balanced--after all, the flyer talks about all the additional cuts that would have to occur if the tax is rejected.
But even if the flyers were balanced it wouldn't matter. That's because they are Get-Out-The-Vote pieces. The goal is not to convince parents that they should support the tax. The goal is to take a group that stands to benefit from the passage of the tax and make sure that they know about the election.
Of course, no one's going to do anything about the illegal use of state funds...after all, it's for a good cause. Of course, if some clerk at DMV uses a state computer to send his cousin a note disparaging the tax, he will be lucky to keep his job...after all, that would be illegal.