[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of East Aurora as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 6-15-2009 by L.L. No. 2-2009]
The purpose of this article is to require that the name of the persons and any legal entities responsible for distributing written or electronic materials in political campaigns for elected public offices be clearly identified on the written or electronic material in order to protect the voters' ability to identify the messengers behind political messages.
The Board of Trustees of the Village of East Aurora finds that:
A pattern of last-minute, unsigned negative campaign materials directed against a specific political candidate or candidates requires the need for adequate identification of the source of campaign appeals directed at the voters in order to assist voters in making rational decisions at the polls.
By requiring such identification of campaign literature, the public is better able to evaluate the source of campaign material, may be more adequately informed, and can better distinguish between truth and falsity.
By requiring identification, anonymous attacks will be discouraged.
By requiring identification, a person who believes that (s)he has been libeled may more readily seek redress in a civil action for damages.
Limiting identification requirements to pejorative campaign material is inadequate because subtle attacks on candidates or measures can be framed which appear to be supportive but, in fact, are pejorative.
Distinction needs to be made between campaign materials of small size that usually carry little more than a "vote for" message, such as is often the case with buttons, matchbooks, and pens, and campaign materials that carry more complex messages. In the case of the former, because of their characteristically small size and limited content, it would be an undue burden to require that identification as to source be included.
All mass campaign literature which expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, slate of candidates, or group of candidates and circulated within one month of the election shall be identified by the words "paid for by" followed by the name and address of the individual or committee who or which paid for the communication.
No candidate, committee, or person shall distribute mass campaign literature unless the name of the candidate, committee, or person is legible on the literature in a conspicuous place in no less than six-point type in a contrasting color.
"Mass campaign literature" means more than 100 substantially similar pieces of campaign literature, including, but not limited to, mailers, flyers, pamphlets, door hangers, walking cards, e-mails, or posters, which are distributed within a single calendar month, regardless of whether distributed through the mail, electronically, by campaign workers, or any other means. Mass campaign literature does not include pens, pencils, or other similarly small promotional items on which the disclosures cannot reasonably be printed or displayed in an easily legible typeface.
The sender of mass campaign literature is the candidate, person, or committee who pays for the largest portion of the mailing.
Violations of the provisions of this article shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $250 or by imprisonment for not more than 15 days, or both. Each day's continuance of a violation after notice shall be deemed a separate and distinct violation and shall be punishable accordingly.