Roughly 12 million registered voters in battleground states are receiving a “Voter Report Card” from MoveOn, which scores their participation throughout the past five elections and compares it to the neighborhood average, reports Politico. MoveOn then plans to run online ads, bringing attention to the project and showing that outsiders can figure out whether or not you have voted.
MSN notes that the mailers seem to have been sent primarily to “Undeclared” voters who are, by definition, outside of political affiliation but historically turn out for Democrats in election years.
These mailers represent a psychological principal called “social pressure” by letting citizens know that their voting histories are publicly available and can be monitored and judged based on voting frequency. It’s an extremely potent tool for driving lukewarm voters to the polls.
The strategy was tested in Michigan in 2006. Researchers tried to shame voters to the polls by threatening to out their records to their neighbors. Though the 2006 study was admittedly coercive, many voter advocacy agencies like MoveOn have tried to implement the strategy while putting a positive spin on it. The idea is to push people to the polls but remind them that they are being watched.
MoveOn tried to raise money for this program based on their own research into social pressure in September:
“Two weeks ago, we ran a secret test of a new voter turnout method in a state primary election. There were 170,000 voters in the study,” the group wrote. “We just got back the results, and our new method was 3.7 times more effective, dollar for dollar, than the best techniques used by campaigns today.”
What do you think? Is the MoveOn mailer a clever way to get people to the polls, or does it amount to voter intimidation? Sound off below!