Published August 25, 2004
COLUMBIA, S.C. – A state Democratic Party effort to sign up new voters mixes images of a military draft (search) notice with a voter registration (search) form, calling on people to make a choice between the two.
The first page of the mailing shows a draft notice with orders to report to a military induction center. The next shows a helicopter with troops in the foreground beneath a headline that says "Officials in Washington are calling for more troops in Iraq." Below, the mailing asks "Which form would you rather fill out?"
Republicans say the mailing is off-base.
"That's the worst of all political worlds -- when you have a deceptive, despicable tactic of saying you are going to be drafted to go to war if you don't register to vote," said Katon Dawson, state Republican Party chairman. "In a time of war, to use that piece of mail, I think speaks volumes of where they are as a party."
South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Joe Erwin said "it's a powerful piece" that is designed to grab the attention of potential voters.
"I can understand why they think it's despicable, but, sorry, we really do need to get potential voters' attention," he said, adding that the mailing strives to let people know that "their vote impacts what our role in the war may be down the road."
The Democratic Party is trying to recoup some of its losses in the 2002 elections that cost them the governor's mansion and a shot at replacing Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond (search) with a Democrat. This year, the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (search) is up for grabs and voters will have to fill every seat in the General Assembly.
A bill Hollings introduced before the Iraq war that calls for a draft has no co-sponsors and has gone nowhere.