You know the scoop here on this one: You open your email inbox folder and you discover a friend or family member has sent you a petition. Each time I receive one of those I grumble and I'm amazed at how many submit their name in faith believing the petition to be valid.
If you added your name to one of those, you are not alone. The first time one of those came around I too was fooled by it, but thereafter I began applying common sense to the concept by first off recalling the definition to the word petition, which is: "A formal written request made to an authority." Immediately you are then able to realize the petition is a hoax when in fact there is no authority that the petition is going to and essentially the email is just set up as a chain letter.
Is there any harm done by the individuals who started a petition hoax? I feel they are harmful. If an individual adds their name to the fraudulent petition thinking it is valid, then most likely they would be cheated out of signing a valid petition. For example, if someone started an emailed petition in regards to the subject of abortion and individuals add their names to it, then when the real deal comes along they will perhaps think, "Oh, I don't need to sign that because I already did that through email." If that were the case the individual essentially was cheated from exercising their right as a registered voter to sign a valid petition.
You may be wondering if the person who started the petition was intending deliberate harm. Maybe, maybe not, but the point is they can deceive someone into believing that they have exercised their opportunity to sign a petition, when in fact it was nothing more than a hoax, and more definitive, a form of fraud.
A person may have started a fraudulent petition as their own rant trying to sway others toward their own political view. Worse yet, a person may start a fraudulent petition in order to detract people from signing a valid petition, in hopes their own political agenda would be successful.
What should you do when you receive a petition within an email? I personally think you may want to consider sending it back to the individual who mailed it to you, and kindly inform them that e-petitions are not valid! Here's one website you can refer them to in your reply. You may also want to check your local governments website for further information. There are valid petitions online, which you can add your name to, but they will never be in the form of an emailed chain letter.
This may seem to be a subject of little importance, but you may save someone from being deceived into believing they expressed their rights as a registered voter, when in fact they did nothing more than become a victim of a senseless act of fraud or a hoax, and in turn may have been cheated from signing a valid petition.
© October 2006 Author: Tammara Nelson
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