Registered Democrats in New York have been getting letters described as “threatening” from the New York State Democratic Committee, which include threats to “out” voters who don’t vote, the Poughkeepsie Journal is reporting.
“Who [sic] you vote for is your secret. But whether or not you vote is public record.”
The letters then hint that the voters’ activity will be monitored, and that if the voters stay home on Election Day, they’ll be “outed” and can even expect a visit from a Democrat official.
“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.”
I think the Democrats just threatened me: pic.twitter.com/wGvYInosk5
— Jonathan Coulton (@jonathancoulton) October 30, 2014
The New York Post calls the vaguely threatening letters “bullying,” and several New York Democrat voters contacted by the paper agree.
“It’s a threatening letter. It’s a scare piece that is unnecessary and inappropriate.”
“I’m outraged. Whether I vote or not is none of your business!”
The threatening letters were sent to around one million registered Democrats who failed to vote in the most recent election.
However, the New York State Democratic committee, headed by former governor David Paterson, sees no problem with bullying voters. Spokesperson Peter Kauffmann said that it’s okay to send voters threatening letters because, he says, Republicans intimidate voters too.
“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 [sic]. The difference between Democrats and Republicans is they don’t want people to vote and we want everyone to vote.”
In fact, as the 2014 mid-term elections approach, allegations of voter suppression and intimidation have surfaced from both sides of the aisle. In particular, Democrats have alleged that voter ID laws, largely championed by Republicans, have the effect of suppressing minority and elderly voters, who tend to vote Democrat.
Whether sending vaguely-threatening letters to voters with promises to “out” them is inappropriate or not, the tactic works, according to Fordham University political science professor Costas Panagopoulos. Professor Panagopoulos says, via The Poughkeepsie Journal, that peer pressure and threats of surveillance are actually a more effective method of getting out the vote than the more traditional, and expensive, methods of door-knocking and phone-calling. The tactic has also been used, with some success, in Rhode Island, Alaska, North Carolina, Colorado, and Iowa.
Do you believe that sending voters letters threatening to “out” them is a legitimate electioneering tactic? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
[Image courtesy of: IVN]