Alaskans getting shamed into voting by mailer

CNN Polls: Tight races in Alaska, Kansas
CNN Polls: Tight races in Alaska, Kansas

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Story highlights

  • The Alaska State Voter Program mailed voters in the state this weekend
  • The mailer used public records to see who had voted and not voted in recent elections
  • Alaska is home to a competitive senate race this year
Some voters are facing a choice this November: vote or be shamed -- publicly.
Voters in Alaska received a letter this weekend from the "Alaska State Voter Program," which told the recipient whether 11 of their friends and acquaintances had voted in the last three elections and asked a bold question:
"WHAT IF YOUR FRIENDS, YOUR NEIGHBORS, AND YOUR COMMUNITY KNEW WHETHER YOU VOTED?"
Despite the official-looking letterhead, the "Alaska State Voter Program" isn't a government initiative. The mailer came from the conservative Opportunity Alliance PAC, which is using public voter rolls to shame or peer pressure voters into casting a vote this election, the Alaska Dispatch News reported Monday.
And the political group says it will follow up after the election, with plans to send out a new mailer that lists which voters went to the polls on Nov. 4.
"You and your friends, your neighbors, and other people you know will all know who voted and who did not vote," the group writes in the letter.
The mailer could have an impact on the crucial Senate election in Alaska next week, where Republican Dan Sullivan is looking to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, especially in a midterm elections when voter turnout slumps.
One recipient of the letter told the Alaska Dispatch News she was creeped out when she realized she was Facebook friends with the 11 people listed in the mailer she received.
It's not the first time groups have tried to shame voters into heading to the polling booth.
Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group backed by the Koch brothers, sent voters in Virginia a "report card" last year that judged their turnout history at the ballot box-- and their next-door neighbor's.
"You are one of the few individuals in your neighborhood that is not a regular voter. We're contacting you and your neighbors today to let folks know who does and who doesn't vote" the AFP letter reads, according to local NBC affiliate WWBT. "Your neighbors who have voted in every election are concerned about our community's well being. They're concerned about the future of America...Are you?"
Voters in other states have received similar "report cards." Another group, Values are Vital, sent Florida voters a mailer this spring that even graded their attendance record at the ballot box and also shared their neighbors' voting track record.
Liberal groups like MoveOn, the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund and America Votes have also pressured voters with voting records.