On Saturday, the missus and I got the weirdest thing in the mail: a folded white sheet of paper sent first class, with the return address of what turns out to be a Mail Boxes Etc. in Casa Linda Plaza. It said it had come from something called "New Voices," and inside was a note addressed to "Dear Registered Voter." After that, it said this:
YOU ARE BEING STUDIED!
Why do so many people fail to vote? We've been talking about the problem for years, but it only seems to get worse.
This year, we're trying to figure out why people do or do not vote. We'll be studying voter turnout in the May 12th Municipal election.
Our analysis will be based on public records, so you will not be contacted again or disturbed in any way. Anything we learn about your voting or not voting will remain confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone else.
The chart shows your name from the list of registered voters, showing past votes, as well as an empty box which we will fill in to show whether you vote in the May 12th Municipal election.
We will leave the box blank if you do not vote.
DO YOUR CIVIC DUTY - VOTE!
Then it showed that in May 2003 and in May 2005, I'd voted, because I am a Fine American. Also, at the bottom in smaller print, it noted, "Political advertising, paid for by New Voices."
Yeah, fine. But who the hell is New Voices?
Turns out a Friend of Unfair Park got not only the first piece of paper, but also a full-color flyer from New Voices. And this one had a logo on it -- for the Graphic Communications International Union.
The tone of this flier was considerably different from its more threatening predecessor ("YOU ARE BEING STUDIED!"). It's also much fancier (yes, we will post one shortly) -- four-color, with one side featuring the skyline (over which it says, "Make a difference in Dallas.") and the other feauturing a few would-be voters, a 7ish-year-old girl and an infant, who, I assume, can't vote, though I know little about election law. Indeed, the lineup is very multiethnic and kind of varying in age: At the far left is a middle-aged Anglo couple, followed by a pretty young African-American woman with a young girl on her back, a 20-something guy who could be any ethnicity (or the fake Aaron Eckhart), a Hispanic woman in her 30s and, finally, a young Anglo couple with their baby. They all look incredibly happy and prosperous.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
There's also this text on the back of the mailer:
You can make a difference in Dallas. Vote.
The question is simple: What kind of Dallas do you want to live in? Do you want a Dallas with safer streets and economic opportunity? Do you want parks and green spaces preserved and neighborhoods protected? If that's the Dallas you want to call home, then the answer is also simple.
Together, we can make the difference and create a better Dallas.
Now, our Friend has some theories about the mailer, which you can find here. But he and I had the same problem: We couldn't find squat about New Voices. I've made calls, done the obvious virtual legwork, asked around...and nothing. I do like our Friend's theory, though: "Zac Crain had some leftover campaign cash he didn't use and decided to do this as a sort of generic GOTV effort." Yeah, well, knowing Zac the last thing he would have called his get-out-the-vote effort is New Voices. Too much like New Times and Village Voice. (Hey, waitaminute...) And he totally would have put his name on the thing. Writers like their bylines.
Anyone else got a theory? Or, better yet, an answer? Because, sure, I could keep looking. But I have a cover story to write. And I was already planning on voting anyway. --Robert Wilonsky