It's election day. While your actual ballot is (supposed to be) secret, a lot of people don't know that whether or not you voted at all
is public information. A few weeks back, On the Media
covered some ways that campaigns try to get out the vote
and looked at some research suggesting that letters to people with a "voter report card" showing when they've voted in the past was a somewhat effective way of shaming people into voting. An even more extreme example was given as well: a letter that specifically shows how often your neighbors have voted. In the piece, OTM producer Chris Neary noted that while such things were effective in the lab, people shouldn't be expecting such letters for real, because, while they may be effective in getting out the vote, they also freak people out on privacy grounds, and no campaign wants to risk freaking people out:
And, by the way Brooke, you’ll never get that last letter. Campaigns hate to send out anything that prompts virulent hate mail in return, and one of those researchers got some of that mail.
Except... Neary has now posted an apology blog post after some OTM listeners reached out to share exactly the kinds of mailers discussed
. While campaigns might shy away from such tactics, apparently third party organizations read the exact same research and took it to heart -- as they're a lot less worried about hate mail:
First, listener Rachel Lieberman got a voter report card mailing from MoveOn.org. (She notes that the report card isn't accurate, she just voted at a different address. Here's hoping it doesn't lower her citizen GPA.)
And from listener Taylor Maxwell, exactly the sort of letter I went out of my way to claim she probably wouldn't get. It's from Americans for Limited Government. Names and addresses redacted, or else we'd be co-shaming.
So, yes, this tactic appears to be in use across the political spectrum, and yes, it's likely mostly serving to creep people out... though it may also get them to go out and vote...