'Voter shaming' letter making the rounds through local neighborhoods

- What if your friends, your neighbors and your community knew whether or not you voted?

Well, that’s what this letter sent to Donna Lauber revels about her voting history. “Immediately I was offended, shocked and upset, because I felt violated,” Lauber said.

The letter also has a chart with names and addresses of relatives and neighbors with their voting track record too, dating back to June 2016. “I don’t want six of my neighbors to know that I voted or I didn’t vote and I don’t want to know their businesses either,” Lauber added. “I just felt like it was a major invasion of my privacy as a citizen.”

Lauber believes the timing of this letter is suspicious.

It arrived in the mail a day before Tuesday’s municipal elections under the guise that it was “Important Tax Information.”

The envelope said it’s from the California Voter Awareness Project, but that’s it.

“There’s no address, theres no office, no information whatsoever for who these people or this person is,” another man whose relative received the letter said.

He thinks it’s a form of voter shaming.

“At the very bottom of the letter it says in capital letters, “Do your civic duty, vote!” he said. “It almost seemed like a ploy to force people to go and vote and not in a nice way,” Lauber said.

Most people might not realize, but a person’s voting history, not who they voted for, but if they voted is public record. 

Still, many people believe that information is private and not to be shared with neighbors.

Below is a statement from the California Secretary of State.

"Our office has recently received complaints about a mailing from the “California Voter Awareness Project” that purportedly lists the voting history of a voter’s neighbors.

While state law permits election information and data to be used for “election purposes,” including for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts, we believe that better strategies exist, besides public shaming, to increase voter turnout and voter participation.

Those who employ such tactics should be aware that state law expressly prohibits the use of election data to harass voters or voter households.

As always, the California Secretary of State's office operates a confidential toll free hotline at  (800) 345-VOTE (8683) for voters to file any complaints.

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