Which is all well and good and perhaps preferable. An elected official getting so involved in the process and displaying such passion is likely to encourage others to go out and vote.
Then DCist reported that Mayor Fenty broke electioneering laws by publicly supporting a candidate in a voting place. You'd think an elected official would be pretty well versed in electioneering laws. I'm sure that a little over a year ago he was instructing his supporters not to cross any lines they weren't supposed to. Now, he's willing to
Fenty's press secretary handled the issue marvelously and I filed the incident away until I got an e-mail this morning complaining about Fenty's alleged offense. This time, I actually bothered to read the story on Slate that DCist was linking to. And it's worse than DCist implied.
The mayor extended his hand, smiled, and asked if I was going to vote. When I responded in the affirmative, he asked, “Barack Obama?” After saying something inarticulate like, “Uh, OK,” I went in and cast my ballot. By the time I emerged, Fenty had disappeared. That’s when I realized that the mayor had been standing directly between two signs that demarcated a no-electioneering zone.
Reading DCist, I thought that Fenty was merely someplace he shouldn't have been in support of his candidate. An honest mistake for your average sign-waver, maybe a little more suspicious from an elected official. But Fenty was actually engaging in voters and subtly pressuring them to vote for his candidate.
The person who e-mailed me put it thusly:
...jesus christ- doesn't he even know that its wrong for ANYONE to ask you who you are going to vote for let alone an elected official in a position of authority????
Yeah, I'd say that hits the nail on the head. Fenty's alleged actions jumped from inappropriate to wildly inappropriate. The most powerful man in Washington was pressuring people to vote for a certain candidate inside a polling place. That has the power to sway voters. And Fenty knows that's against the rules. The rule of law and the rule of political etiquette.
I'd say, at the very least, an apology is in order.