CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Message to convention planners: Three days are enough.
Both major parties packed their presidential nominating conventions into 72 hours, one day short of the traditional four-day celebration — prompting few complaints from either delegates or the viewing public.
Republicans scrapped the first day of their convention in Tampa because of Hurricane Isaac. Democrats, mindful of Labor Day and eager to promote a cost-conscious image, kept their gathering to three days by design.
So will 2012 mark the end of the old-fashioned blowouts the two political parties host every four years? After all, the actual business of the convention — adopting a platform and nominating a presidential ticket — could be completed in a few hours.
Some political heavyweights say the answer should be yes.
‘‘Given as much news as people get today and the way they get their news, I’m not sure having a four-day convention in the future makes a lot of sense,’’ said House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who was the presiding officer for the GOP event.
He also noted that modern conventions are expensive, costing tens of millions of dollars to produce, and they create few waves.
Conventions, once used to pick presidential, or at least vice presidential candidates, sometimes in smoke-filled rooms, are now mostly a made-for-TV production, with little real business conducted.
While lobbyists host fancy parties and politicians raise money, the public aspect of the event is confined to a single hour a night on network TV, with much of that devoted to commentary rather than focused on the podium. Most of the work on party platforms and other issues happens off-camera.
Yet with elaborate sets and staging, along with enhanced, post-9/11 security, even the scaled-back conventions are not cheap. Democratic and Republican officials say their conventions cost nearly $120 million apiece.
So is it worth it?
Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said the answer unquestionably is yes. Even in their modern form, conventions are too important to be confined to two days, he said.
‘‘I think it would be really hard for us to draw the narrative, or tell the story [of the presidential candidates] shorter than three days,’’ Woodhouse said.
‘‘Conventions should be an event,’’ he added, with enough time for delegates who have traveled thousands of miles to get a ‘‘respite,’’ while helping the parties launch the fall campaign.
Voter registration drives use data mining, Internet as restrictions grow
TALLAHASSEE — Some organizations are turning to sophisticated data mining, direct mail, the Internet, and other strategies to register voters typically underrepresented on the rolls, including young people and ethnic minorities. Others are simply targeting those who favor their political goals, such as conservative Christians.
The shift away from more traditional voter registration drives — including volunteers with clipboards in front of a supermarket — is driven as much by restrictive state laws as it is better technology. Several states including Florida have recently passed legislation setting tight deadlines for groups to turn in voter applications, so groups such as the NAACP were looking for ways to get the applications directly into the hands of voters. And they also have to rely on voters to turn in the applications themselves.
‘‘This is a new effort since the 2000 election,’’ said University of Florida political scientist Daniel Smith. ‘‘Technology has made it more cost-effective. . . . When you have upwards of 40 percent of eligible populations not registered, there is a market for this kind of work.’’
Florida is a particularly important area for the groups, as it is the largest swing state in the presidential election. Other targets include Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.
The increased focus on direct mail and data mining comes as the campaigns themselves increasingly use online data to raise money and persuade voters.
The new Florida law set a 48-hour deadline for turning in applications once they are completed, along with various registration and reporting requirements.
Organizations or individuals could be fined $50 for every late form up to a maximum of $1,000 in a given year.
A judge has since blocked that part of the law from taking effect, though Smith said that until then it did have a chilling effect on registrations.
Florida is one of 23 states that have laws restricting traditional registration drives, according to Project Vote, a Washington-based nonpartisan group that promotes voting in underrepresented communities.
Requirements in various states run the gamut from tight deadlines like Florida’s to limits on how many registration forms a group can obtain.
‘‘We have seen a systematic coordinated attack on voting rights across the nation,’’ said Marvin Randolph of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. ‘‘We’ve had to work harder to make sure that people have access to the ability to register and vote and we’ve had to be more aggressive and innovative.’’
Community service but no jail time for the Obama ‘HOPE’ poster artist
NEW YORK — The artist who created the ‘‘HOPE’’ poster that came to symbolize Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was ordered to do 300 hours of community service Friday for a criminal contempt conviction but was spared jail time.
Shepard Fairey, 42, of Los Angeles nodded his head several times and said ‘‘OK’’ as US Magistrate Judge Frank Maas told him he must commit no crimes during two years of probation and must pay a $25,000 fine to the federal government.
During remarks before the sentence was announced, Fairey called his decision to fabricate evidence in a civil lawsuit he brought against the Associated Press in 2009 the ‘‘worst thing I’ve done in my life.’’ He also apologized.
‘‘I am deeply ashamed and remorseful that I didn’t live up to my own standards of honesty and integrity,’’ he said.
Maas said the sentence needed to send a message to others who might destroy or fabricate evidence in a civil case that the consequences of covering up what they did is far worse than telling the truth.
But he said Fairey’s considerable charity work over a long period of time mitigated the need for prison on a misdemeanor charge that carried a maximum potential sentence of six months.
‘‘Punishment has been and will be in the form of public disgrace,’’ Maas said.
Assistant US Attorney Daniel W. Levy said the crime had caused the AP ‘‘massive financial consequences.’’ Fairey paid $1.15 million of the $1.6 million owed to the AP in the settlement of the civil case. Insurance covered the rest.
Fairey admitted in 2009 that he altered evidence after basing the iconic poster on a 2006 AP photograph.
He said he based the poster on one photograph when he actually had based it on another that was nearly identical to the poster he created.
The red, cream and light-blue image shows a determined-looking Obama gazing upward, with the caption ‘‘HOPE.’’