‘CT Voter Project’ sends mailers with public information on voting history
Some state residents have received mail from the “Connecticut State Voter Project” detailing whether they or their neighbors have voted in recent elections, but the top state election official says it’s unclear whether the mailings represent voter intimidation.
Every few years, the group, using public information from a database that can be purchased from the Secretary of the State, sends out mailers to people in the final weeks of a big campaign, with "reminders" to voters who might not yet have cast their ballots. There is no indication from public records who is behind the effort.
The latest edition of the anonymous project went out to homes in Bridgeport and Branford over the last few days. Merrill, speaking during an event in West Hartford, said it is legal to have the information, but whether the group’s tactics are intimidation may be in the eyes of the beholder. Later in the day, she said she referred numerous complaints to the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
“Why do so many people fail to vote?” the mailer says. “We’ve been talking about the problem for years but it only seems to get worse. This year we are taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you, your friends, your neighbors, your colleagues at work and your community members to publicize who does and who does not vote.”
The mailer includes other names, their alleged participation in recent elections and whether they have voted in the 2020 general election.
The mailer promises to send an “updated chart” after the election. “You and your friends, your neighbors and other people you know will all know voted and who did not vote,” it says.
“It’s creepy, I would grant you that,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said in response to a reporter’s question in West Hartford. “I don’t know if it actually constitutes voter intimidation.”
The Connecticut Voter Project isn't registered anywhere. It just springs up from somewhere with a postage meter.
Later in the day, before an event in New Haven, Merrill confirmed that she has referred a number of complaints from a variety of communities to the SEEC. She is convinced that it the effort is not foreign meddling in elections.
“Usually every four years there is a group, and we don’t know exactly who they are, that does this, theoretically, to increase the voter turnout,” Merrill said. “It springs out of some research that shows that shaming actually works in some cases. Personally, this year I think it is having a very opposite reaction.”
“We have received many calls from concerned citizens, but no formal complaints or referrals yet,” said Michael J. Brandi, executive director and chief counsel of the SEEC. “We’re very aware of the issue and will continue to monitor the situation and the Commission will thoroughly investigate if requested to do so.”
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