Monday, November 2, 2015

Struggle With Turnout? Try Shaming People Into Voting

The Indianapolis Star reports:
Vote or face public shaming.
That’s essentially the message from several last-minute mail pieces landing in the mailboxes of Indianapolis residents ahead of Election Day.    
The most recent is a mystery mailer that threatens to expose people who don’t vote. It's apparently an attempt to get out the vote for the Indianapolis mayor and council races. Turnout is expected to be low, so both parties are trying to make sure their voters show
up at the polls. 
“What will your neighbors think,” the mail piece asks in big, bold letters. The dominant image is a man peering through a set of blinds.
The back of the flier purports to show the voting record of the recipient and two neighbors.
“Your voting history is public record,” the mailer says. “An updated report will be mailed to you and your neighbors following the 2015 General Election. The updated report will show who in your neighborhood did their civic duty.”
It’s the same basic message the Indiana Democratic Party sent to potential Indianapolis voters last week. Republicans criticized that mailer as an attempt to intimidate voters.
“This is something unique. I’ve never seen this tactic before. It’s very aggressive and again, I think it’s intimidating to most voters and maybe even a little creepy,” Marion County Republican Party Chairman Kyle Walker told Fox59.
But the new piece appears to have GOP ties.
While the responsible party is not identified, postage information shows it was sent through Gridiron Communications, a direct mail firm that frequently does mail pieces for the Indiana Republican Party and other GOP candidates.
A copy  of the mailer obtained by The Star was sent to a voter in a predominately Republican area of the city.
This is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate voters.  While this appears to be Republican-inspired, Democrats have done the same thing.  Both parties need to knock off this nonsense. I agree with Andy Downs, political science professor at IUPU-Fort Wayne who said this creepy approach to turning out voters is unlikely to be successful:
“It’s Big Brother stuff. It’s peeping tom stuff,” he said. “I don’t know that this shame tactic works. I think this is as likely to discourage turnout as it is to encourage it.”

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