With Iowa Caucuses approaching, Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) campaign has figured a new* way to get out the vote: pretty much shaming people for not voting often, and then hope they flock to the caucus spots. Sarah Rumpf at IJReview reported on the mailers being sent to various voters in Iowa, like Tom Hinkeldey of Alta [bold font indicates text of Cruz mailer]:
The mailer was a large card printed to look like a manila envelope on one side and was labeled in all capital letters, “ELECTION ALERT,” “VOTER VIOLATION,” “PUBLIC RECORD,” and “FURTHER ACTION NEEDED.”
On the other side, the mailer said in red letters at the top, “VOTING VIOLATION.” The text then reads:
You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.
The mailer then listed his and Steffany’s name, along with five of their neighbors.
Rumpf was able to confirm that these mailers were indeed the work for the Cruz campaign, and that these tactics weren’t exactly new. Rick Taylor, a Cruz spokesperson, told her that this turnout operation was “very narrow” with regards to those who were targeted, and that they wanted “people who haven’t voted before to vote.” Well, Mr. Hinkeldey was on the fence; he’s now going into the Rubio camp. Oh, and this “report card” style showing one’s voter participation was done by MoveOn.org in 2012. Some have noted the privacy concerns. The whole incident has created a backlash against the Cruz camp.
The Secretary of State of Iowa weighed in on the matter, noting that there’s no grading system issued to voters, nor is this “in keeping with the spirit of the Iowa Caucuses” (via Des Moines Register):
In a statement, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said he was shown one of the mailers and said the wording "misrepresents the role of my office, and worse, misrepresents Iowa election law.”
“Accusing citizens of Iowa of a ‘voting violation’ based on Iowa caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act,” Pate said. “There is no such thing as an election violation related to frequency of voting. Any insinuation or statement to the contrary is wrong and I believe it is not in keeping in the spirit of the Iowa caucuses.”
Former Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, who is serving as chairman of Cruz's Iowa campaign, said the Cruz mailers are similar to ones sent by the Republican Party of Iowa in previous elections.
"These mailers are common practice to increase voter turnout," Schultz said in a statement. "Our mailer was modeled after the very successful 2014 mailers that the Republican Party of Iowa distributed to motivate Republican voters to vote, and which helped elect numerous Republican candidates during that cycle.”
Now, there is nothing illegal about these mailers. Yet, Rumpf spoke with Republican strategist Rick Wilson, who told her that these types of mailers do yield results, but the "social pressure stuff has got to be subtle. This, on the other hand, is like a sledgehammer.”
The Register added that Cruz will not apologize for his campaign's actions that encourage people to come out and vote.
It all begins on February 1.
*Of course, it’s not new.