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California Tortilla Makes the Same Mistake as the Young Dems?

by ARLnow.com November 2, 2010 at 9:01 am 2,358 34 Comments

Last week we told you about a seemingly innocuous event held by the Arlington Young Democrats: a happy hour to give free beer to anyone who showed up at a bar with a sticker indicating they voted absentee.

As Politico reported, however, such giveaways are illegal under federal election law. Starbucks has also learned that lesson.

But apparently nobody told local burrito chain California Tortilla. The company, which has a store in Courthouse, is offering a free taco to anyone who shows up with an “I Voted” sticker.

How long until the feds politely shut it down? Or, at least, force California Tortilla to give away tacos to everyone?

Update at 9:20 a.m. — As a commenter points out, the giveaway may be legal, after all. If you simply scream “I love election day” you qualify for a free taco, according to the California Tortilla website. Any federal election lawyers want to weigh in?

  • Aristides

    So Budweiser, Maxwell House, and McDonalds can buy our elections constantly and endlessly thanks to the Supreme Court, but
    us little people cannot be rewarded for voting?

    Absurd.

    • PikeHoo

      No doubt. All we want is our free taco. Politico ought to keep it’s focus on the big picture – unlimited corporate donations to candidates.

  • ArlAaron

    Is it also illegal for little kids who are obviously under the age of 18 to wear those little “I Voted” stickers? I see them every election day and just shudder to think of the federal laws that must have been egregiously violated.

    • Texas Wahoo

      They had “Future Voter” stickers for the kids where I voted.

      • RestonRunner86

        Where I voted at Forest Edge Elementary in my Reston neighborhood they had an adorable little girl handing out the “I Voted” stickers to people after they cast their ballots. I think it’s great to get children involved in the political process at as young of an age as possible. In the past few years I’m noticing more and more of my youthful peers becoming increasingly politically charged, and I think this momentum needs to continue. I wouldn’t be surprised in a few years if most voters were either senior citizens or YOUNG voters—with the middle-aged “I’m too busy” types feeling the “guilt squeeze” from we voters on both ends of the age spectrum. Too busy to take five minutes to vote? That’s nice. I’m sure all of our forefathers who laid down their lives and fought so valiantly to secure our liberties would be happy to hear that sipping a tall latte at Starbuck’s while playing Farmville on your smartphone took precedence over what their sacrifices did for you.

        • bennynojets

          If it was only true that it took 5 minutes to vote. I have had to wait an hour and half to vote in past elections in Ballston.

          Luckily I only had to wait 15 minutes this morning.

  • Lou

    I saw this advertised in the Business Journal daily email yesterday and thought the same thing.

  • Thirsty

    This should be fine for California Tortilla. They are not offering tacos to people who have voted but to customers with an “I voted” sticker. Customers will not be asked to show proof of age (over 18), citizenship (US citizens only), and/or voter registration.

  • j

    actually the website says if you wear your “I VOTED” sticker, say that you voted or scream ”I love election day”. The or scream “I love election day” part opens the give way to all persons voter or not. Since it is open to everyone it doesn’t seem illegal to me.

    • Rover

      What if you can’t speak? For that matter, what if you can’t write “I voted” on a piece of masking tape either? What if you are an illigal and can’t vote? How unfair is it to these people that they can’t get a taco???

      How ridiculous is this…..?

      • RestonRunner86

        It’s about as “ridiculous” as me not being able to get a discount at many businesses because I didn’t manage to survive to be a senior citizen yet. Nobody complains about the elderly being given so many special priviledges just for having aged, so why not throw voters a bone? Voter turnout in this country is always DISGUSTING, and a lot of people I know don’t vote because they say “my vote doesn’t matter.” Well, if you throw someone a free taco, then maybe they WILL vote?! LOL! As an aspiring politician myself I find it to be egregious to not vote out of sheer laziness, apathy, or ignorance when so much depends upon our collective civic involvement. Anything that can be done to help “incentivize” people to vote (for ANYONE—-not persuading people to vote in any particular way) should be encouraged and not admonished.

        P.S. Feeling sorry on behalf illegal immigrants who can’t get a free taco because they can’t vote because they have NOT gone through the naturalization process? Seriously? I’m a rainbow flag-waving rabid liberal myself, but wow!

        • Rover

          My point is, that if California Tortilla wants to give away tacos then they should be able to give them to anyone they want. It is their business. If Starbucks wants to give away coffee to registered Republicans only, they should be able to do it. Debating what a business can give away for a promotion is crazy in the context of politics.

          • rob42

            I should be able to give my money to anyone I want. So what if I want to give $100 to everyone who voted republican today?

  • RestonRunner86

    I personally wish the law could be changed. Voting is a VERY satisfying feeling, and it is a civic priviledge that many of our ancestors have laid down their lives for in order to secure for us. While I don’t agree AT ALL with a business or organization trying to influence the outcome of an election in a biased or partisan manner (i.e. Vote for Moran, and we’ll give you a free taco!), I personally see no ethical harm in saying “VOTE (for ANYONE) and get a free taco!” I went to vote in Reston this morning (yeah, I voted for Moran—shoot me), and I was given a sticker for voting, which I am now proudly wearing at my office. Isn’t that giving me something in exchange for voting? If you’re over 18 and are a U.S. citizen then you have NO EXCUSE to not vote. If you can get yourself to Starbuck’s for a free coffee or to California Tortilla for a free taco then you can also get yourself to your neighborhood polling site.

    Coincidentally it’s also my birthday today, and I’ve already made it known on Facebook that instead of just having dozens and dozens of people whom I’ve spoken to once post “Happy Birthday” on my wall I ALSO expect them to give me a “gift” by going out and VOTING! Two already did on my account (one who swings Republican and one who swings Democrat). I believe Election Day should be a national holiday so then people truly would have ZERO excuse to avoid voting!

    • Darwin

      “I personally wish the law could be changed. Voting is a VERY satisfying feeling, and it is a civic priviledge that many of our ancestors have laid down their lives for in order to secure for us.”

      Well said! I voted Republican but I think we can at least agree on this!

      • RestonRunner86

        For what it’s worth in prior years while living in Pennsylvania I’ve voted for more Republicans than Democrats in some elections. I lean liberal on social issues (pro-same-sex marriage, pro-life, pro-LEGAL immigration, pro-preservation of Second Amendment rights, pro-legalization and subsequent taxation of marijuana) and conservative on fiscal issues (i.e. greater accountability and efficiency in government), and often times I’ve shot myself in the foot to vote for someone who strongly opposes same-sex marriage if I’ve researched them to have better long-term financial plans to upright my community or nation. I’m actually aligned with many of the core beliefs of the Tea Partiers, but I’m turned off with how they’ve allowed right-wing fringe loonies to infest their party instead of telling them to take a hike. People who vote in every election for a straight-party ticket or who vote in every election for “only pro-life candidates” or “only pro-same-sex marriage candidates” garner scorn from me. I researched Moran and his challenger very deeply, and Moran barely edged out in the end and EARNED my vote through research.

        In my native Luzerne County, PA there is a question on the ballot today asking voters if they’d like to transition from a form of government with three elected at-large county commissioners to “Home Rule”, in which there will be 11 elected at-large part-time county executives who will appoint one paid full-time manager to essentially run the county. A recent survey conducted in conjunction with a local newspaper found that only 16% of all respondents had READ the proposed charter for Home Rule, and yet the vast majority of survey respondents were voting in favor of the government change, meaning nearly everyone voting for Home Rule didn’t even bother to read the charter to see what it’s about. Sound familiar? In 2008 I was probably the only one I knew who actually RESEARCHED both McCain and Obama before voting for Obama while nearly all of my 20-something friends voted for Obama because “I hate Bush.” Most had no idea that BOTH candidates were actually opposed to same-sex marriage, for example (some voted for Obama purely for that reason), but research would have shown that to them.

        I don’t take voting lightly, obviously. Scores of my ancestors gave up their lives so I could walk into an elementary school and touch the screen on a machine to exercise an important civil liberty. It took me all of five minutes to vote, and it really IRRITATES me that such a short span of time is “too hard” for some people—the same people who will spend an hour today playing Farmville on Facebook.

        • Darwin

          “I lean liberal on social issues (pro-same-sex marriage, pro-life, pro-LEGAL immigration, pro-preservation of Second Amendment rights, pro-legalization and subsequent taxation of marijuana) and conservative on fiscal issues (i.e. greater accountability and efficiency in government), and often times I’ve shot myself in the foot to vote for someone who strongly opposes same-sex marriage if I’ve researched them to have better long-term financial plans to upright my community or nation. I’m actually aligned with many of the core beliefs of the Tea Partiers, but I’m turned off with how they’ve allowed right-wing fringe loonies to infest their party instead of telling them to take a hike.”

          Holy crap I’m with you! I was definitely glad to see Republicans get the boot last election after spending 8 years spending like drunken sailors on big government! I definitely believe the government that governs least governs best!

    • Zoning Victim

      I don’t really think your depiction of the people who don’t vote in certain elections as a bunch of lazy people who would rather play games on their smart phones than go and vote is accurate. Most people who don’t vote probably just are not impressed with any of the candidates that are running.

      I’m glad that voting makes you feel good. However, I’m a fiscal conservative and social liberal, so I don’t have a political party that represents me. Voting for either side usually makes me feel dirty in some weird way because they all just seem to want to spend us into oblivion and I don’t like any of the candidates that I get to choose from. I do it anyway, but it never makes me feel very satisfied.

      In regards to our forefathers being unhappy about our lack of voter turnout; it is my understanding that a lot more people turn out to vote now than any other time in the past. You are talking about the people who refused to let women or minorities vote. Besides, if our forefathers could see what’s going on now, they would probably be disgusted in general with what goes on in politics.

      All that said, I agree with you that voting is important and that giving away a taco to anyone who votes in whatever way should be fine. I just don’t think that demonizing people who don’t vote is the right way to try to get people to participate.

      Rob42, you owe me $100, ha ha

      • Trixie

        Hey, ZV — If you’re socially liberal and fiscally conservative, you are Libertarian. You might look into that. Maybe you’ll find it possible to get behind a candidate or two next time. Happy voting!

    • TGEoA

      I agree, anyone who voted for Moran should be shot.

      • Frenchy B

        Wow, that’s a totally reasonable thing to say.

        • ArlAaron

          I think he meant to say “should be shot, but in a nice way.” Yay sanity!

  • Thirsty

    Um…is it legal to give out stickers saying “I voted” after someone votes? Seems like a reward to me.

    • TGEoA

      I told them I didn’t want a sticker. A waste of money and paper. And I don’t think people deserve a medal to shown the world they did their civic duty. Look ma! I made, I made!

      On a lighter note, ArlNow.com got at least 1 vote for the school board. Sorry Sally.

  • Greg

    It sounds ridiculous, and it is a little bit, but go back not even a hundred years and vote buying was incredibly common.

    “Here’s a pint of whiskey, remember me on election day.”

    Not rendering an opinion, just a modest explanation.

    For opinion: Revision of the rule to allow modest recognition (free taco, free tall coffee) seems okay, with tough penalties for violations/fraud.

    • Zoning Victim

      Go back 100 years? It’s probably happening today. Voter fraud is far more prevalent that most people want to believe, in my opinion.

  • Tom M

    Don’t look now but the Brits are also trying to steal the election! Don’t tread on me!

    “Tuesday Voting Day 20% Lunch/Dinner Discount at Union Jack’s

    After you perform your civic duty this Tuesday, November 2nd by voting, come on down to Union Jack’s and enjoy 20% off your lunch and dinner tab. Just show your “I Just Voted Sticker”. What a great way to take a moment away from politics and celebrate the end of the political ads (at least until 2012). This special can not be combined with other promotions.”

  • Bluemont John

    I believe it’s not illegal to reward people for voting as long as the reward isn’t tied to who they vote for.

  • Matt K

    I love Chipotle.

    • NJmetsfan

      I probably wouldn’t rent an apartment in Ballston if they didn’t have Chipotle and Rock Bottom.

    • Darwin

      Me too, I should start a Chipotle and Puppies party! Who could be against that?!

  • Matt K

    Mmm Chipotle party. I just need Mister Days to move into Ballston. Then I won’t have to take metro there anymore.

  • a’town

    discretionary spending went up 60% under President Bush.

    Just sayin….. both parties are full of it by thinking they can just come into office, spend billions of dollars, but not raise taxes. Cant just use balance transfers to avoid paying the tab, it’ll getcha eventually!

  • solarm

    I got my free taco from Cal Tort, and paid for another one too. And some guacamole. I covered them in mango hot sauce. They were delicious.

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