Just who turns out to vote in midterm elections is considered the most important factor in who wins on Election Day. I’ve seen a lot of efforts by parties to turn out “their vote,” but never one like the one from New York Democrats this week. Some 1 million registered Democrats got a letter telling them, in effect, that the party will want to know the reason why they didn’t cast a ballot.
The letters note that “who you vote for is your secret. But whether or not you vote is public record.”
“Many organizations monitor turnout in your neighborhood and are disappointed by the inconsistent voting of many of your neighbors,” the letter reads.
It goes on to say that, “We will be reviewing the . . . official voting records after the upcoming election to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014. If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.” If the tactics involved aren’t quite Big Brotherish they sure strike me as at least coming from a Big Boss.
Peter Kauffmann, a spokesman for New York State Democrats, said the letter “is part of the nationwide Democratic response to traditional Republican voter suppression efforts — because Democrats believe our democracy works better when more people vote, not less.”
But a lot of Democrats aren’t buying it. “It’s a threatening letter. It’s a scare piece that is unnecessary and inappropriate,” one Democratic consultant told the New York Post. Another expressed concern that some voters are getting “report cards” on their voting record, pointing out just how many elections they have failed to follow the party line and vote.
The Election Protection committee, the ostensibly “non partisan” group responsible for the mailings, is chaired by former Democratic governor David Patterson. It claims that the tactic is increasingly being used in other states, with similar letters popping up this year in Alaska, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Colorado, and Iowa. So don’t be surprised if this new intimidation tactic shows up in your mailbox in some future election.