Shaming tactic has some voters crying privacy invasion - KCTV5

Shaming tactic has some voters crying privacy invasion

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This election cycle has brought a new approach to getting out the vote - using voting records to shame people into voting.

Kenny Whetzel was shocked and offended by the mailing he received at his rural Smithville home. It listed his supposed voting record in the past two elections and those of six neighbors, indicating it went out to all of them and would be updated after Tuesday's election. A voting list of who was naughty and who was nice so to speak.

"What they're doing is legal, but it's unethical," he said.

Whetzel said he voted in 2008, but the mailing said he didn't but did in 2004.

How someone votes is not public record, but whether he or she votes is.

"I understand that voting records are public," he said. "You need that if you want accountability. I don't mind if my neighbor checks to see if I voted, but I don't think an organization should use that information to intimidate."

The mailing came from a group called Americans for Limited Government, an officially non-partisan group that champions views that are most prevalent among Republicans and Libertarians.

Reuters reported that the group sent mailings to 2.75 million people in 19 states, but did not explain how the voters were chosen.

Officials with Americans for Limited Government did not return telephone calls or emails seeking comment.

A group on the other progressive of the political spectrum is trying a similar tactic., a group that played a big role in Barack Obama's 2008 get-out-the-vote effort, intended to send 12 million voting "report cards," comparing the recipient's voting record to the neighborhood average. And a voter's individual record isn't shared with others.

The organization said it targeted progressive and undecided voters in swing states. Click here to see the report card.

The hope is persuade more to vote that might not otherwise with the organization saying "the social psychology" helps lead to the voting.

That effort did not call out individuals by name to their fellow neighbors, a distinction which matters only a little to Whetzel.

"It's less personal," he said, "but I still don't like it."

The mailing he got left such a sour taste in Whetzel's mouth that he is considering voting for fewer Republican candidates than he might have otherwise. He said his neighbors can look at his voting record by going to election offices, but he said it shouldn't be openly shared by an outside group.

"That's not the purpose, what it was intended for," he said. "This is intimidation... This pulled me in with my neighbors. I don't like that. It's not what it's for. They're pushing the limit. They're pushing the envelope."

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