Candidates say, ‘I approve this message,’ but why?

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Runoff Republicans urge Georgians to vote by mail despite Trump’s attacks. When Vice President Mike Pence mentioned mail-in votes during a campaign stop for Georgia’s Republican Senate candidates, he was met with a smattering of boos from a crowd more accustomed to unsubstantiated claims of absentee ballot fraud. Now, Republicans are encouraging supporters to embrace voting by mail ahead of Jan. 5 runoffs that will decide control of the U.S. Senate. . With the potential for rainy or icy weather on election day, U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and their GOP allies don’t want to take any chances. The campaigns have urged voters to cast ballots early, either in person or by mail. Flyers and digital ads targeting reliably Republican households urge voters to request absentee ballots and “MAKE IT COUNT!” . And Pence echoed other big-name GOP officials by calling on Republicans to bank their ballot soon. The first thing I want to ask you to do — and I heard the ballots are already being sent out, the absentee ballots — vote Georgia to re-elect David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler to the United States Senate, Vice President Mike Pence

“I’m [INSERT NAME HERE] and I approve this message” is a familiar refrain in these final days of the 2020 election season. But have you ever wondered why candidates are required to use that phrase at the end of their broadcast ads?

It’s because of a provision in the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, the Stand By Your Ad provision. The law was co-authored by Democrat Russ Feingold and the late John McCain, both of whom were serving in the U.S. Senate. McCain, a Republican, and Feingold wrote the bill in an effort to legitimize campaign contributions by banning large corporate donations.

The Stand By Your Ad provision requires anyone running for federal office to include “I approve this message” as part of their campaign commercials. The goal, according to The New York Times, was to limit insults and accusations at one another.

The Federal Election Commission is specific about how that disclaimer should appear. The written statement must come at the end of the ad, appear for at least four seconds, be readable against a contrasting background and occupy at least 4% of the vertical picture height. The candidate will typically identify themselves and say the message aloud.

If the message was not approved by a candidate, then the spot will typically name the entity that is responsible, usually a political committee, group or person. There’s also usually language about who financed the commercial.

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