Democrats with a record of not showing up to vote in New York state have received intimidating vote-or-else letters from the Democratic Committee which contain “bullying” verbiage telling them they’d better head to the polls next week or the committee would be “interested to hear why not,” insinuating the committee will be reviewing voting records looking for slackers who fail to show up and vote.
The letters were accompanied by a “report card” rating voting records as “excellent,” “good,” “fair” or “incomplete”and showing when and where the recipient had voted in the past – with “failed to vote” records highlighted. The notices were sent out to 1 million registered Democrats who had failed to vote in previous midterm elections, according to the New York Post:
“Who you vote for is your secret. But whether or not you vote is public record,” the letter says. “We will be reviewing voting records 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.”
“Many organizations monitor turnout in your neighborhood and are disappointed by the inconsistent voting of many of your neighbors,” according to the report card.
The committee, chaired by former Governor David Paterson, stood by their decision to send the scare-tactic letters and said the practice was commonplace throughout the US. Committee spokesman Peter Kauffmann also defended the letters:
“This flier 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. The difference between Democrats and Republicans is they don’t want people to vote and we want everyone to vote.”
Included in the letter is a phone number to Election Protection – a nonpartisan voting organization which said it had received “a significant” amount of calls pertaining to the scare letters.
According to a 2008 Yale University study – voter participation increases substantially when “lazy voters” receive notices about their spotty voting history and informing them it was a matter of public record which would/could be scrutinized.
Democrat New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is heavily favored over Republican challenger Rob Astorino, was not behind the bully letters according to party sources, but Astorino didn’t hesitate to connect Cuomo to the letter campaign:
“Andrew Cuomo’s thuggish tactics just crossed the line into creepy territory. Threatening and intimidating people is not how honorable elected leaders operate.”
A user posted a photo of their creepy, bully, vote-or-else letter on twitter:
I think the Democrats just threatened me: pic.twitter.com/wGvYInosk5
— Jonathan Coulton (@jonathancoulton) October 30, 2014