(SM Chavey, Liberty Headlines) Many New Hampshire voters expressed anger when they received information about their neighbor’s voting records in the mail in February 2016. But no one knew who it was from.
Almost a year and a half later, the mystery is solved: Supporters of Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign were behind the mailings.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit organization working “to reduce the influence of money in politics and help foster a government that is ethical and accountable” according to their website, uncovered the details on Tuesday.
The envelope of the mail stated “important taxpayer information enclosed,” and the letterhead had a New Hampshire State emblem-like graphic titled “New Hampshire State Voter Program.”
Inside, the letters warn residents “your neighbors and other people you know will all know who voted and who did not vote.” They included a voter report, showing voting records from the 2012 general election and 2014 primary and general elections.
“If I were to find out prior to tomorrow’s vote who would stoop this low to garner votes, even if I was going to vote for them, they would lose my support,” one recipient wrote to HuffPost. “I have no interest to know who in my area did not vote and am extremely angry that some organization or candidate supports this type of blackmail tactics.”
Many residents sent complaints to the New Hampshire Secretary of State Office.
“This appears to be an attempt to intimidate NH voters,” William O’Shaughnessy, a self-identified independent voter in Bedford, New Hampshire, wrote. “I understand that this is public information, but this use of the information is outrageous.”
Recipients and others investigating the situation could not determine where they came from. The only hint was a small note saying “Paid for by Public Policy Matters,” an organization that seemed to have no web presence.
“Shaming” voters was not a new tactic. A social experiment in Michigan showed that telling neighbors about voter turnout can boost results by 2.5 percent. Not long before the New Hampshire incident, a similar (though less scandalous) mailer in Iowa was sent from Ted Cruz’s campaign and urged citizens to vote in the Iowa caucuses.
Some people found the mailer had ties to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign — which Rubio quickly denied — but most people remained in the dark about where the mailers had come from.
Retrospectively, John Kasich’s second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary provides subtle evidence that the mailer was from his supporters.
It wasn’t until July 2017 that the news finally came out.
The Public Policy Matters organization had recently changed its name to Two Paths America, a nonprofit established by supporters of Kasich. “Two Paths” is the title of Kasich’s new book.
“The organization (Public Policy Matters) believed that it is important to encourage citizens to vote,” Chris Schimpf, who has worked in communications for Kasich, told The Columbus Dispatch in an email. “The practice referenced is a common one developed by political scientists. It wasn’t affiliated with the campaign. It was an independent organization.”