Musings —03.09.2012 09:11 AM—
John Fryer and the BC paper that broke the news about the now-infamous vote suppression discussion at a Manning Centre campaign school have clarified that Campaign Research’s operatives didn’t condone the practice. They continue to say, however, that vote suppression tactics were mooted by unnamed others at the Manning Centre conference.
I’ve spoken with one person who was at that event. He/she couldn’t recall vote suppression being discussed in the sessions he/she attended. But he/she didn’t dispute the notion that others enthusiastically did so. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” said this person.
To wit, what is now being reported:
During Fryer’s first day of the training, Ciano and Kouvalis led a session about the mechanics of winning elections, Freyer said. Voter identification was at the core of this conversation. A key task to win an election, according to Ciano and Kouvalis, is to identify your supporters, nurture them, and ensure they get out the vote. Attendees were told about staying in touch with your voters, and informed of the services that Campaign Research offers.
Fryer recalled that in the training, instructors stressed the importance of identifying and keeping track of non-supporters. The key to victory, they said, was ensuring more of your supporters turn out to vote than theirs.
In the question and answer period that following this session, some attendees discussed using robo-calling services to contact non-supporters. Ciano, Fryer explained, gave detailed explanation of how robo-calls work, as well as techniques for recording messages, and the costs involved. He then discussed the merits of robo-calling: in addition to being inexpensive, they give the campaign manager total control of the message. Campaign Research could even write your script if you didn’t want to do it yourself.
The conversation that followed was deeply disturbing to Fryer. In a question and answer session, some attendees discussed voter suppression tactics. Attendees talked about posing as a member of another party, and about making rude calls at inconvenient times as a strategy to get the supporter of another party to not go out and vote for their candidate. Neither Ciano, Kouvalis or Campaign Research were part of these discussions, according to Fryer’s recollections.
According to Fryer, “the mood of the meeting was that this is war and that anything goes.”
He does not recall that attitude being condoned by Ciano, Kouvalis or Campaign Research.