CANOGA PARK (CBSLA.com) — A daily trip to the mailbox unlocked anger in Michelle Pritikin when she came across an unexpected letter.
She found an envelope from California Voter Awareness Project. Inside was a letter that showed her and her neighbors’ names and addresses and revealed whether or not they voted in the last three elections.
It read: “WHAT IF YOUR FRIENDS, YOUR NEIGHBORS, AND YOUR COMMUNITY KNEW WHETHER OR NOT YOU VOTED?”
“I became furious. It’s aggressive. It’s threatening,” Pritikin said. “The tone is just very negative. It’s just kind of coercive.”
There was no address, contact information or postmark on the envelope. “It’s even more creepy than somebody going door to door,” she said.
When Googled, a political action committee based in San Diego came up. The group denied being involved and wrote on Facebook: “We have received numerous complaints about voters receiving a letter from ‘California Voter Awareness Project’ we are in no way affiliated with the sender of this letter as we are California voter project.”
So is it legal? Voter information is public record. But California Secretary of State Alex Padilla released a statement saying: “We believe that better strategies exist, besides public shaming, to increase voter turnout. Those who employ such tactics should be aware that state law expressly prohibits the use of election data to harass voters or voter households.”
Pritikin believed a political campaign was behind it. “It’s an unethical practice to threaten people to do something. You can’t use threats to kind of bill collect, you shouldn’t be allowed to do the same thing to force voting.”
It was unclear who funded the voter shaming campaign. But Los Angeles County investigators were looking into it.