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Are Pollsters Using Sneak Attacks?

Corte Madera voters complain of a push poll in the District 4 Marin County Board of Supervisors race between Diane Furst and Steve Kinsey.

"Don't answer the phone," Jeri warned with a certain amount of anger and trepidation.

When one Corte Madera resident answered the phone recently, she wasn't entirely surprised to be asked to answer an election survey. It's election season, after all, and the phone is ringing of the hook with campaign workers and pollsters looking to gain support for candidates.

She was surprised, however, by the nature of the questions in this survey which seemed to be targeting the District 4 Marin County Board of Supervisors race, in which Corte Madera Vice-Mayor Diane Furst is challenging incumbent and fellow Democrat Steve Kinsey.

It seems several Corte Madera residents received calls asking them to take part in this survey, which Furst's campaign has labelled a "push poll."

Push poll is defined by dictionary.com as "a seemingly unbiased telephone survey that is actually conducted by supporters of a particular candidate and disseminates negative information about an opponent."

Supporters claim the poll indirectly attacks Furst. Kinsey's campaign says it has no connection to the poll.

"We don't have any regulations about this, said Melvin Briones, Marin County Assistant Registrar of Voters. "According to our Registrar, there's nothing illegal about this kind of poll. But if someone's intimidating voters or offering money to vote a certain way, then voters need to contact the Secretary of State right away."

Briones said he didn't have any knowledge about this particular poll, but had heard of similar polls in past elections. He suggested that the sponsor of the poll might have purchased a phone list of registered voters in District 4.

There's a short list of individuals who purchased that list: Furst, Donna Gallagher, Maury Tamboro and Dorothy Lee Lull.

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