March 14, 2013 12:02PM

Because a Less Informed Public Is a More Compliant Public

Remember when organized teachers used to be big on civic education and raising awareness about the voting process? Times have changed, as Jeff Mapes of the Oregonian reports

The Oregon Education Association wants state legislators to remove the notice on ballot envelopes warning voters of a potential property tax hike in upcoming elections. 

Oregon voters passed the requirement as part of Measure 47 in 1996, but the union sees now as a politically propitious time to get rid of it: 

Union officials say the warning, which the law now requires to be “boldly printed in red,” unfairly singles out property tax measures and is not needed because the ballots themselves contain clear information about proposed tax hikes.

Critics and taxpayer advocates say the union’s objective is to reduce turnout by tax‐​skeptical voters, especially in low‐​participation off‐​year elections where the union might otherwise prevail just by turning its own people out. (An uncharitable observer might even see the aim as “voter suppression.”) The union’s response is a classic: 

[OEA spokeswomen Becca] Uherbelau said the teachers union is not trying to depress turnout.

“Our history has shown that we have done a lot to increase voter participation,” she said, noting that the union has frequently spent money encouraging people to vote in local school levy and bond elections.

Right, because a history of dragging their own supporters to the polls totally refutes suggestions that they’re trying to reduce the likelihood of their adversaries’ backers making it there.