Voter Info Fliers Causing Concern

Voter Info Fliers Causing Concern

By Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel . CREATED Jun 4, 2012

Jane Boutan thought it was an invasion of privacy.

Corrine Greuling worried about her safety.

Viola Miller wondered if it could be used to steal her vote.

They and others got upset after the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund mailed fliers over the weekend listing people’s names, addresses and whether they voted in the November 2008 and 2010 elections, as well as the same information for a dozen of their neighbors.

“What am I supposed to do? Go shame my neighbor? Whether my neighbor voted or not is none of my business,” said Boutan, who lives in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood.

The fliers arrived in mailboxes last weekend. The Greater Wisconsin Political Fund, which is affiliated with the Greater Wisconsin Committee, is a liberal group that has run ads against Republican Gov. Scott Walker to help Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in Tuesday's recall election. The group did not respond to voice mail and email messages Monday afternoon.

Addressed to registered voters, the fliers say “Who votes is public record! Why do so many people fail to vote? We’ve been talking about the problem for years, but it only seems to get worse. This year, we’re taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote.”

Another version of the flier reads “Scott Walker won in 2010 because too many people stayed home! Two years ago, more than half a million Wisconsinites who supported Obama failed to vote in the 2010 election. And that’s how Governor Scott Walker got elected. This year, we’re taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote.”

This version of the flier encouraged people to call or knock on their neighbors’ doors to ask them to vote on Tuesday.

Before listing names, addresses and voting records of the flier recipient and a dozen of their neighbors, the mailing warns that after Tuesday’s election “public records will tell everyone who voted and who didn’t. Do your civic duty – vote.”

Greuling, who voted absentee in Tuesday’s election, said she fears for her safety because the information on the fliers could be used by criminals and identity thieves.

“I think this is invasion of my privacy and every other woman’s privacy. It’s like – here, this is where all the women are” in her neighborhood, said Greuling.

Miller was upset that her flier mentioned the 2008 presidential election because she didn’t vote for President Barack Obama, and she didn’t appreciate her name and address being used without her permission.

Voting records are public in Wisconsin. The flier notes that the voting information came from the Government Accountability Board, which runs state elections.

Boutan, Miller and Greuling all said they understand that voting records are public but they were angry that the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund went to great lengths to publicize to their neighbors that information.

Plus Miller, who lives in Waukesha, is now worried that since she’s already a registered voter and will not be required to show her ID to vote on Tuesday, someone could use her name and address to vote.

"Anybody can go and vote with my name and there’s my vote stolen for somebody I might not have voted for,” said Miller. “It wasn’t even in an envelope. It’s got my name and address on one side of a piece of paper open to everybody.”