The Koch-affiliated Americans For Prosperity is getting some backlash for election mailers it sent to voters in New Jersey and Virginia, which both have gubernatorial races this year. A tactic used by both Democratic and Republican-aligned outside groups, the election mailers attempt a form of public shaming through so-called “voter audits,” which share whether neighbors voted in recent elections.
AFP sent one out last week to New Jersey residents that read, “According to public records, you are one of the few individuals in your neighborhood that is not a regular voter. We’re contacting you and your neighbors today to let folks know who does and doesn’t vote.” It lists their names and addresses with check marks for whether they voted, according to NBC40.
The anger in Brigantine, New Jersey was enough to prompt a response from AFP State Director Daryn Iwicki, who admitted “the tactic is outside of the box. It’s a little bit different. As far as I’m aware, we spoke to the Atlantic County Supervisor of Elections and there is nothing illegal to what we’re doing. We’re just encouraging people to go out and vote.”
Similar mailers are circulating in Virginia, where voters will choose between Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe. Virginia, where it was once illegal for third parties to access voter records, has allowed the information since a 2010 court case.
Voting registration records are public, but often voters consider these tactics to be an overreach and breach of privacy. In 2012, Americans for Limited Government, a conservative group, used the voter audits, and faced complaints from recipients in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina. At the time, the mailer also promised to follow up after election day and “send an updated vote history audit to you and your neighbors with the results.”