Some voters are facing a choice this upcoming election: vote or be publicly shamed.
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?"
It looks like an official government document, but it’s not. 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.
Here’s the thing all of this is completely legal. The letters are based on a state voter list which tracks whether voters participated in elections over the last 10 years. Under state law, the document is publicly available for $20 in print or $21 electronically.
This isn’t the first time groups have tried to shame voters into heading to the polls.
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?"
I’m concerned about this public shaming. While I feel that it is our civic duty to vote, it is no one’s business who I vote for and if I voted. I do not need to “out” anyone. Sounds to me like somebody needs to put into place the “Voters Privacy Act” and soon.
And that’s today’s helping of The Online Dish with Maggie.