A letter sent by the New York State Democratic Committee to voters around the state — and whose tone some people have found intimidating — has landed in the mailboxes of some local Democrats.
The brief, unsigned letter says whether the voter casts a vote is a matter of public record and then provides basic information on how they can determine their registration status.
The letter then concludes: “We will be reviewing the Saratoga County official voting records after the upcoming election to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014. If you did not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.”
At least one voter who received the letter was disturbed enough to share it with The Daily Gazette. The letter went to about 1 million people statewide, generating stories in the New York Post and on various conservative blogs.
“That’s very intimidating,” said Saratoga County Republican Committee Chairman John Herrick. “We’d never even think of sending a letter like that.”
Schenectady County Democratic Committee Chairman Joe Landry and Saratoga County Democratic County Chairman Todd Kerner said Friday they knew nothing about the mailing and had received no complaints about it.
The letter, while unsigned, contains the statement: “Paid for by the New York State Democratic Committee and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.”
Peter Kauffmann, a spokesman for the state Democratic Committee, told The Associated Press the letter 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.”
Political scientists said such letters are effective in increasing voter turnout, and the AP said similar mailings have been sent out this year in Alaska, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Colorado and Iowa.
Barbara Thomas, vice president of the League of Women Voters of New York State, said everything the letter states is true: A voter’s attendance record at the polls is public information.
“It sounds a little intimidating, but maybe it’s good to let people know it’s a matter of public record,” she said. “It doesn’t strike me as being unfair.”
Thomas also noted the letter doesn’t threaten any action against those who don’t vote.
Since this is an “off-year,” non-presidential election, significantly less than half of those eligible to vote are going to turn out, if recent election history is an indication.