It’s not unusual to see voter registration ads popping up in an election year, particularly in a state like Arizona, which has become increasingly competitive.
The problem, however, is when those ads start popping up in another country — specifically, Mexico.
According to The Western Journal, voter registration ads seemingly aimed at eligible voters in the Grand Canyon State have been appearing on computers south of the border. Not only that, the ads prominently feature Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, who is up for re-election this year.
And, if you live in Arizona, you ended up paying for them.
The Western Journal first received reports of the ads when a “registered Arizona voter spending time in Mexico noticed the ad pop up on his computer, along with other local ads, indicating the ad providers clearly recognized the computer’s IP address was outside the country.
“Having knowledge in online ad placement, the man questioned why the state of Arizona should be paying for any ads to run outside the United States, when it is easy to set the parameters to only deliver the content inside of the country.”
Indeed, the tech folks at our publisher, Liftable Media, quickly confirmed that such ads could easily be targeted to run only in the United States. They added that “cookies” — files that track a user’s internet activity and show ads based upon their interests — were likely responsible for the ads being displayed; users who saw the advertisements had likely searched up or read about Arizona politics.
However, given the nature of the ads and the politically-sensitive issue of voter fraud, one would imagine this would be an instance where geo-limiting the ad to the United States would have definitely been a good idea.
Equally problematic is the appearance of Reagan on the ad, especially since the first term secretary of state could be on the ballot this fall and this was all paid for out of state funds.
Matt Roberts, director of communications for Reagan’s office, says that they weren’t looking to court voters south of the border.
“We are not specifically targeting people in Mexico,” Roberts told The Western Journal. “All of the spots are limited to Arizona.”
As for Reagan’s appearance in the advertisements, Roberts said that “(p)romoting voter registration is an important part of the job and the Secretary, along with her Voting Rights Ambassadors and Elections staff will continue to do so throughout her entire term.”
“That said, I imagine the content might change when the Secretary actually gets on the ballot as it has in the past,” he added.
Unfortunately, Reagan may have a difficult time getting on the final ballot for secretary of state, which makes her use of state funds for what amounts to a backdoor campaign ad problematic.
Last July, The Arizona Republic reported polls had Reagan sporting a rather dismal 17 percent approval rating compared to 37 percent disapproval, citing “a drive to usher even more dark money into Arizona’s campaigns” and a “litany of disasters that have befallen elections on her watch.”
Among said disasters involve half a million voter pamphlets for a May 2016 special election not getting distributed in a timely manner and problems with polling places during the state’s vital 2016 presidential primary.
Republican national committeewomen Lori Klein Corbin and businessman Steve Gaynor have both been collecting signatures to challenge Reagan in the August primary. One consultant said that Corbin had made clear during a recent Maricopa County Republican Committee meeting that she was definitely a candidate for the position.
As for the ads, one prominent Arizona GOP consultant was significantly less sanguine than Mr. Roberts when it came to Reagan’s appearance in the voter registration ads.
“I think there is a way to promote voter registration and participation that’s clearly not promotion of the secretary of state,” the consultant, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Western Journal. “The focus should be on getting new voters registered, not promoting the failing incumbent.”
While it seems unlikely that Reagan was actively courting voter fraud, it appears to be yet another botch for a politician whose short tenure in her position has evinced no shortage of them. It looks like she’ll need every voter she can get — and if she could get them from Mexico, she no doubt would.
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