The Secretary of State’s Office is cautioning the public about misleading letters sent before the November 5 General Election. Voters received letters from an organization, Center for Voting Information, giving their neighborhoods a “grade” based upon voters’ alleged previous vote history according to party affiliation. The letter implores voters to “vote for the candidate, not the party.”
The Center for Voter Information, is a D.C.-based group labeled as “nonpartisan” but has a history of supporting Democratic candidates and opposing Republican candidates.
In Mississippi, voters do not register by political party so the “grade” is inaccurate. There is no such information which could be obtained to determine a voter’s support or lack of support of a party since voters do not register by political party in Mississippi.
“Correspondence like this is intimidating and misleading and ultimately deters voters from going to the polls to cast a ballot,” stated Secretary Hosemann.
Last year, a similar letter was mailed out in Kentucky. Residents were confused by letters sent to their homes claiming to be part of a study which would reveal whether their they and their neighbors have voted in the last few elections. Similar to the letters in Mississippi these letters warn that future mailings will list their names if they don’t vote.
According to an article in the Herald Leader, “This chart shows the names of people you know and their election histories,” read one of the letters sent in late October to some Lexington residents, above a chart identifying 10 registered voters by name and showing their voting histories — but not how they voted — in the 2014 and 2016 primary and general elections.
In the Kentucky incident, calls to Page Gardner, the $190,000-per-year president of the Voter Participation Center, and Lionel Dripps, the managing director, were not returned. Dripps is a former Democratic Party campaign operative and field organizer according to his LinkedIn profile.
The letter’s masthead identified it as a “Kentucky State Voter Report,” and it gave a Pewee Valley return address. Two groups were also affiliated with these letters, the Voter Participation Center and the Center for Voter information, which were known as the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund who in 2016 campaigned against President Trump.