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Do Your Friends and Family Know If You Voted?

With the election coming up next week, political organizations and candidates are stooping to new lows to try to encourage, and sometimes even strong arm, voters into the voting booth. The Alaska Dispatch News reported today about a potentially frightening new tool to pressure people into the voting booth: a mailer highlighting neighbors, coworkers and family members which pinpoints who has, and has not, voted in the last few elections. The Alaska Dispatch News spoke with one recipient of the letter, Nikki Adams,

To make good on that threat, the names of 11 people — some of whom Adams knew personally — were listed below, along with their addresses and a tally of whether they had voted in the last three statewide elections.

There was a big question mark under the 2014 spot.

The letter let Adams know that the senders intended to mail an updated chart after the Nov. 4 election.

“I was outraged,” said Adams, a full-time student who grew up in Alaska. “This is like a violation of privacy. It’s not anybody’s business whether or not I voted.”

Whom a person votes for is always supposed to remain private. But whether someone voted has long been a matter of public record, said Gail Fenumiai, director of the Alaska Division of Elections.



Not only is this a potential invasion of privacy, but it also goes to show how much political organizations know about social circles and individuals on their mailing lists. If a political organization knows who we’re friends with and where they live, what else do they know?

How would you feel if you received a mailer like this from a political organization?