King County Election Director Dean Logan sent out a press release yesterday, reminding voters that they do not need to re-register in order to vote this fall. Why would Logan feel the need to remind voters of something that they shouldn’t need reminding of?
This week, King County received phone calls from a handful of alarmed voters who received blank voter registration forms in the mail with a notation suggesting that they were not registered to vote. Election officials across the state have received similar calls from voters concerned about the status of their registrations.
“The voters we’ve heard from are properly registered,” said Logan. “They participate in every election and haven’t moved or changed their voting information so the message in the mailing is particularly disconcerting.”
In one incident, a King County voter reported receiving a recorded phone call from a national political campaign committee stating their records indicate she might not be properly registered at her address. The county’s official voter registration records show the woman properly registered.
In fact, I’ve been hearing scattered reports of these robo-calls for the past couple weeks, and it’s not exactly clear what the motive is. Is this some kind of incompetent GOP GOTV campaign? Or is it yet another ham-fisted example of Republican voter intimidation and suppression?
We’ve all heard about the Republican National Committee’s “sophisticated” data mining operations, but if they are trolling for unregistered households with GOP-leaning demographics, they sure seem to be hitting an awful lot of registered Democrats. And whether the intent is voter registration or voter intimidation… March seems to be an awfully odd time to attempt either.
Whatever. Here’s a transcript of the phone message that’s been going around Washington State:
“This is the Republican National Committee with an important alert. Our records show that you may not be properly registered to vote in your district. These elections are very important.
You have the opportunity to vote for republicans who will stand up for your values or liberals who will fight for their own special interests.
Please take a moment to look into whether or not you are properly registered to vote, and if you are not, please take the time to fill out the form and send it in.”
A number of county auditors from around the state have reported receiving angry phone calls from confused voters, wondering why they need to re-register… and in most every case, there is absolutely nothing wrong with their registration.
And it’s not just happening in Washington State. The DNC has recently received reports of the same robo-call message hitting registered Democrats in Nebraska… and the RNC apparently tested a similar campaign in 2005 during the closely contested governor’s race in Virginia.
Hello, this is an important election alert. Our records indicate that you may not be properly registered to vote at this address. The race for Virginia’s next governor will be close. Every vote will count. That’s why it is so important that you are properly registered to vote. You’ll be receiving a form in the mail in the next couple of days. Please, take a moment to fill it out and return it by October 11 so you can exercise your right in the upcoming election on November 8. Paid for and authorized by the Republican National Committee 05077. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.
Regardless of intent, these calls can’t help but sow confusion. Listen to the audio; no wonder this robo-call had dozens of Virginians calling registrars, elected officials, and attorneys to find out if some change in the law required them to re-register to vote. And considering the recent noise here over plans by the GOP propaganda mill Evergreen Freedom Foundation to run an initiative requiring exactly that, it’s no surprise this recent round of robo-calls has WA state voters coming to the same conclusion.
Considering last fall’s voter registration challenge debacle, it is reasonable to be suspicious of any GOP outreach on such issues. Perhaps there really is no nefarious intent behind these robo-calls, but if you’re going to warn voters that they may not be properly registered, the least you could do is cross-check your list with the publicly available voter registration records.
In any case, it doesn’t seem to bother the GOP that their efforts are leaving hundreds — possibly thousands — of voters unnecessarily confused about their registration status. It’s the type of callous gamesmanship we’ve now come to expect from a party that views voter suppression as just another tool in their arsenal.
[Cross-posted to Daily Kos]