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Group Wants MTS To Run ‘Get Out the Vote’ Ads

With the election just two weeks away, a San Diego coalition promoting social justice wants MTS to run ads encouraging people to get out and vote.

Members of a San Diego coalition promoting social justice took to the streets Tuesday in downtown San Diego, just outside the Metropolitan Transit System headquarters. They want MTS to run ads on its buses and trolleys encouraging people to vote on Nov. 4.

Alliance San Diego created non-partisan bus ads with the message, “Vote for San Diego,” with the date of the election as part of an effort to increase awareness about the election. But MTS has an advertising policy that prevents the group from placing ads on public transit.

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Rob Schupp, director of marketing for MTS, said the transit agency has tightened its ad policy in the past couple of years. MTS ads are limited to a commercial service — things that can be bought, sold or leased.

"So what might be objectionable ads to some parties are not on our property to create controversy," Schupp said. "This has nothing to do with the Alliance or their mission to get out the vote. It’s an admirable cause, but the ad just did not follow our policy."

Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego, said MTS is “capricious and arbitrary” in the way it applies the policy.

The group said its get-out-the-vote effort is especially critical in communities with historically low voter turnout that use public transportation.

Christopher Wilson with Alliance San Diego said MTS did run the group’s ad promoting the 2010 Census.

"It sends a bad message to the public that at a time when we should be expanding our democracy and getting people more engaged in the civic process and trying to build a better San Diego that money is more important. And we just think that's a bad decision," Wilson said.

Assistant Producer Marielana Castellanos contributed to this report.

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