Anyone who is even a mild political observer knows that politics is a dirty game. But surely the Doug Jones campaign has reached a new low in threatening to dox Judge Roy Moore voters. For the casual politico who may not understand, the definition of doxing is publishing “private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.”
Alabama voters are being treated with a doozy of a dox in the voice over of this commercial making the rounds online:
“If you don’t vote and Roy Moore – a child predator wins – could you live with that? Your vote is public record, and your community will know whether or not you helped stop Roy Moore.”
Alrighty then – the gloves are off for sure in this race (as if they weren’t already.) But this – this – goes beyond the pale and can easily be construed as a way to intimidate a potential Moore voter. The Ad is produced by a Birmingham Jones super PAC known as Highway31Now.com.
Inquiring minds might want to know that federal law forbids anyone from intimidating, threatening, or coercing another to vote for, or not vote for any candidate for federal office per 18 U.S. Code § 594 . What “intimidation” means for these purposes, beyond frightening with the potential for violence or other unlawful conduct, is unclear though, because the legislation does not define it and few courts have examined and ruled on it.
Because a federal law cannot supersede a constitutional right, we know that reporting truthful information such as a person’s public record voting history is not likely to be found to violate the law on that basis. That is free speech. However, this ad certainly stretches the federal code into a bit of a pretzel and is designed to cause potential Moore voters to fear retaliation as a result of their vote.
Liberty Nation Constitutional Attorney and Legal Affairs Editor, Scott D. Cosenza had this to say about this rather unseemly commercial:
“These commercials do seem to purposefully conflate the record of a voter’s appearance at the polls to vote on election day with the publication of who they voted for. By stating “[y]our vote is public record and your community will know whether or not you helped stop Roy Moore,” it seems like they are trying to mislead the public into thinking their voting choices will be publicized. While this is, of course, not true, how such a lie would be found “intimidating, threatening, or coercing” is not clear.”
The YouTube advertisement is currently under review by the Alabama Secretary of State. Thank God for that.
Perhaps the Jones people felt the need to pull out all the stops now that Moore seems to be gaining in the polls. According to AL.com Moore carries a three-point lead over his challenger. But a Washington Post poll has the numbers flipped with Jones in the lead by three points. These numbers pretty much take us back to where the two candidates stood before all the allegations about sexual misconduct occurred.
Meanwhile, little is known about Highway31 which produced the commercial and that appears to be just as they want it. This is essentially the sum total of their website: “Highway 31 is a group of Alabamians committed to getting Doug Jones elected to the U.S. Senate.” This is followed by a brief laudatory paragraph about Jones and then nothing, zip, nada. This is a curious website, and it’s likely nothing more will surface about them until after the election.
This could be a tight one, folks. With the election coming up on December 12th there is still time for additional shenanigans, and it would be naive to think there won’t be more to come. Still, the Judge has weathered a fierce storm – you could call it a Category 5 twister – and thus far he’s still standing: As such voters in Alabama should be reminded that voting booths have curtains for a reason and they should vote for whosoever they damn well please.