TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – With the primary behind us, KSNT News looked at the role misinformation could have had on voters.
Misinformation is highly damaging in any form, but especially when it comes to politics.
During last Tuesday’s primary, KSNT News met Carleton Bryer, a Topeka resident who’s pro-life. Even with his beliefs on abortion, he felt the messaging from the “Vote Yes” camp through advertisements misrepresented what was actually on the ballot.
“It’s a complete issue,” Bryer said. “While I said I am against abortion, the organization that was funded mostly by the Catholic Church lied to us. I do not appreciate that as a voter. I think that we need to have representatives and organizations that tell voters the truth and the whole story.”
While Carleton is just one example out of over 900,000 people that voted on the amendment, the importance of accuracy and misinformation during the past several months leading up to the primary played a role in last Tuesday’s outcome.
“In a ballot measure, there’s going to be a certain amount of people confused by the language, or who get caught up in what could be called misinformation, meaning they get confused from the messages from either side,” Dr. Bob Beatty, political analyst, said. “The good news regarding that is this abortion amendment was not close. It was 18 percentage points. So the amount of voters who were super confused or feel they were led the wrong way is certainly not going to reach double digits let alone 18 points.”
While many submitted their ballot for what they believed in, others used their vote to show frustration with how they were campaigned to.
“There’s actually been many reports of voters saying on each side they didn’t like the idea that they might be misinforming, so they voted against them,” Dr. Beatty said. “The idea of misinformation always working is not always true.”
Additionally, the ballot measure itself played a role in muddling the water with what actions organizations could take – as many political advertising laws focus primarily on campaigns and individuals rather than amendments.
“There’s also the larger issue of if lying or misinformation is technically legal in political advertisements, which it largely is according to the supreme court,” Dr. Beatty said. “Kansas may also want to force candidates, force political action committees, to be much more clear on who’s paying for the message – that would mean outright stating it in a clear voice, hey we paid for this.”