Mailer Tells You Which of Your Neighbors Voted

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Alissa_Sal's picture
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Mailer Tells You Which of Your Neighbors Voted

I got this very thing, a mailer from the "Americans for Limited Government" listing all of my closest neighbors (names and addresses) and then saying whether they voted in 2004, 2008, and 2012 (2012 was listed as "pending" for everyone.) It did not say who they voted for, only yes or no whether they voted. It had me listed as "No" in 2004, which is incorrect, so I can only assume that they were looking under my married name (I voted under my maiden name in 2004, as I was not yet married.) The mailer also said that they would be sending out updated info after the election (presumably to let us know which of our neighbors voted in this election.

I googled "Americans For Limited Government" and this is the first news article that came up:

Americans for Limited Government political mailing fuels worries over invasions of privacy

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Long a staple of election year politics, a newmailing being delivered to the mailboxes of people in 19 states has fueled worries over invasions of privacy.

Americans for Limited Government , a self-described non-partisan group (Note from Alissa - I went to their website, and I do not believe they are "non-partisan", both from their anti-Obama news releases, cartoons, blogs, et cetera, and from the fact that one of the founders worked under Reagan and the other worked under Bush II) created to advance what it described as core American liberties, sent a mailing titled "Vote Audit History" to 2.7 million people, including nearly a quarter million people in Florida.

The mailing tells recipients that Americans for Limited Government "conducted an audit of public voting records in your neighborhood and wanted to present you findings of past civic participation in your community."

The single-page mailing lists the names and addresses of voters and their neighbors and whether they voted in 2004 and 2008.

It does not disclose who they voted for but closes with a reminder that it would send an updated voting history audit after Election Day.

"My first reaction was, "Why it is anybody's business? " asked Bonnie Billing, a West Palm Beach resident. "It was just completely inaccurate. I voted in every election period."

The Fairfax, Virginia-based group, which used public records to obtain the information, said the mailings had a singular purpose and had been sent to encourage more people to vote on Election Day.

"We firmly believe that people who sit on the sidelines and do not engage in selecting our leaders are abandoning not just their right to a say but are diminishing everyone's rights," said Richard Manning, a communications director for Americans for Limited Government. "We all need to express our views."
Asked about whether some mailings had listed incorrect voting records, Manning said, "an extremely small percentage had entry errors."

Though the information the group obtained for the mailing is a public record, elections officials and political analysts in Florida and elsewhere were surprised by how it was used.

"It's an invasion of privacy," said Timothy Gilbert, a professor at Northwood University. "The intent might be a good one to try to get people to vote that haven't voted but the method is, I think, a pretty nasty method."

The mailing was part of nearly $1 billion spending blitz by candidates, political parties and their supporters.
"If I were to walk up to a neighbor who happens to be on that list and they were to say 'Oh, well, you need to vote, you didn't vote the previous two times,' you know, that's just wrong on all levels. It really is," Billing said.

In Indiana, where state officials received numerous complaints from voters, Secretary of State Connie Lawson told voters to disregard the letter .

Thoughts? Is it an invasion of privacy for a group to tell your neighbors whether you voted in the last elections?

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I think they spent a lot of money on something sort of creepy. Invasion of privacy? Somewhat I guess. At least they didn't tell people who voted for whom. I don't think neighbor ambushes on the non voters of the neighborhood is a smart way to get people to vote.

AlyssaEimers's picture
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Irritating and a waste of money. I would assume (or hope) most people vote. I would not want it said who we voted for.

Alissa_Sal's picture
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I found it creepy, although I have a hard time vocalizing why since it didn't actually say who we voted for. Whether or not you voted must be public record (how else would they get the info) so I guess it shouldn't be creepy, but it still feels that way to me. If I'm understanding the point of it (trying to peer pressure you into voting by telling your neighbors on you if you don't?) then that seems like a really kind of nasty way to go about things.

Rivergallery's picture
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Not sure but I do like this website https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/vr/showVoterSearch.do You can type in your full name date of birth and zip, and see if they received your ballot

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Weird. I don't care if my neighbors vote . It's such an important thing that I hope they exercise their right but it is also our right to not vote. Not my business.

ange84's picture
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I think it's just strange, why would someone spend so much on resources to produce them.

It's a non issue here, I know which of my neighbours voted, which is all of them seeing as it is complusory here, although the fine is only about $50 if you don't

AlyssaEimers's picture
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"ange84" wrote:

It's a non issue here, I know which of my neighbours voted, which is all of them seeing as it is complusory here, although the fine is only about $50 if you don't

How interesting.

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Actually just checked, it looks like it has gone up to $100, but there are reasons they electoral commission accept for non voting

ftmom's picture
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This would really tick me off, just because it has full names and addresses on it. We try to be really private about our full names and address for the same reason we have an unlisted number.