Iowa Voters Upset at Democratic Effort To ‘Shame’ Them Into Casting Ballots

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By Jillian Kay Melchior | 8:24 pm, November 8, 2016
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A targeted campaign to increase voter turnout in the swing state of Iowa apparently backfired, with many Democratic voters saying they felt shamed and freaked out.

Chicago’s Progressive Turnout Project, the PAC behind the effort, collected public data from Iowa’s secretary of state, looking at which registered Democrats had spotty voting records.

The mailers, which were sent to Democrats in Iowa’s first and third congressional districts, included personalized ratios showing low past turnout.

“How would your friends, family and neighbors feel if they saw your voting record and knew you were an infrequent voter?” the mailer concluded, urging voters to “make a plan to vote on November 8.”

Claire Rogerson, a spokesperson for the Progressive Turnout Project, tells Heat Street the PAC’s overall goal is to increase voter turnout among Democrats, adding that other organizations have also used similar mailers.

“The reason people send those is because they work,” Rogerson said. “They’ve been shown to increase turnout by 5 to 8 percent. The goal isn’t to shame voters, just to increase voter turnout.”

The national field and training director for the Progressive Turnout Project told the Des Moines Register that he’d received several calls about the campaign.

“We’re not threatening to send it to neighbors,” he clarified.

Ted Cruz sent out similar mailers during the primary elections, also prompting backlash from Iowa voters.