T here's already enough about the electoral/political process I don't like; I certainly don't need more to add to my list.
Yet there it was a few days before Election Day, a letter from Americans for Limited Government, a self-described non-partisan network committed to promoting free-market reforms, private property rights and basic American liberties.
Its main focus is on tax and spending reforms, property rights, political term limits and limiting the size of government.
I am not a member, nor have I ever been a member.
But to be honest, after reading about the organization on its website, I agree with much of what it seems to stand for.
If only it hadn't sent the pre-election letter.
Because now I don't trust them any farther than I can throw them, and that's not more than 10 or 12 feet.
The letter, sent to my home and the homes of six of my immediate neighbors in Shiloh, is thanking us for our "dedication to voting in past presidential elections."
And then it pats us on the back: "Our American democracy is stronger because of civic-minded citizens like you."
So far, so good. If only it had stopped right there.
Instead, it followed with this: "We have conducted an audit of public voting records in your neighborhood, and wanted to present you with findings of past civic participation in your community."
What followed was a chart titled "Vote History Audit," which included first and last names, street addresses, and whether we voted in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections.
This was all about politics. National politics at that.
My first reaction, even though the information is a matter of public record available to anyone who wants to take the time to research it, was that it felt like an invasion of my privacy.
To what end? I asked myself out loud. What purpose does this audit and mailing serve?
The ALG further advised it would be updating its records after the Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, general election, and it would be sending "an updated vote history audit to (me) and my neighbors with the results."
Did ALG think it was twisting my arm to vote? Did it think it was providing some necessary pressure to push me in the direction of a voting booth? Was it performing some useful community service?
None of the above. All it did was tick me off.
And what I was most ticked off about is the information they were sending hither and yon to all my neighbors and goodness knows who else, is wrong. It's just not accurate. It says I didn't vote in 2004, when I did.
To the best of my knowledge I've never missed a vote in my adult life.
Just to make sure of that, I called the York County Department of Elections and Voter Registration and spoke to Lisa. I explained to her the reason for my call and was surprised when she said the elections bureau had received a bunch of complaints from York countians about the ALG mailer.
They, too, were irate about the inaccuracy of the information in the mailing.
Just to be sure, I said, could you check to see what my voting record is? She could and she did. Since 1990, which is as far back as the county records go on computer, I have not missed voting in any primary or general election.
So Lisa suggested I contact the Pa. Department of State Division of Elections and Voter Registration. I did, and guess what? It had received tons of calls, as well, from disgruntled citizens protesting the inaccuracy of the mailer.
So then I contacted ALG down in Fairfax, Va., and poor Robert got to listen to me rail on about the inaccuracy of the information as it related to me personally.
Robert said the purpose of the mailer was to encourage people to vote on Election Day.
But that didn't fly with me.
If you're going to mail this thing out at such great expense, I said, then why not make sure it's accurate? What's the point of being wrong when you could just as easily be right?
Because now I can't take anything in it seriously, I told him. If the information is wrong about me, I must assume it's wrong about everyone in my neighborhood.
Robert listened. He said he'd take my name off the mailing list.
More research on this mailing by ALG shows York County and other areas of Pennsylvania weren't the only recipients. As it turns out similar mailings were made to voters in 19 states -- all battleground states, I'll betcha.
And apparently they were just as inaccurate in the other 18 states as they were in Pennsylvania and York County. Almost 3 million people received the mailing, according to an ALG official.
This mailing is said to have cost $1 billion. That's a total waste of money, funds that could have been put to much better use -- reducing the national debt, for example.
Worse, it's about peer pressure, shaming people into voting because they don't want their neighbors to think badly of them.
On so many levels, it's wrong.
And it's just one more thing on a long list of things that leave a bad taste in my mouth about the political process.
Is it illegal? No.
But it still stinks to high heaven.
Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.