Letter to Toledo voter seen as intimidating

Woman is told group has ‘audit’ of neighborhood elections activity

Danielle "Embyr" Lindner holds a letter she received that is supposedly an "audit" of her voting history..

A let­ter re­ceived from a con­ser­va­tive or­ga­ni­za­tion by a Toledo woman is vaguely in­tim­i­dat­ing, but Da­nielle “Embyr” Lind­ner is not sure why.

"I’m not sure if they’re try­ing to en­cour­age me to vote, or not to vote, but I’m con­cerned that my neigh­bors are get­ting the same let­ters. I don’t want them to know I do vote. It’s re­ally no­body’s busi­ness,” said Ms. Lind­ner, 24, of Toledo, a med­i­cal bill­ing as­sis­tant.

The let­ter from Amer­i­cans for Lim­ited Govern­ment pur­ports to be a Vote His­tory Au­dit. It thanks her for vot­ing and shows her vot­ing his­tory, show­ing that she voted in 2004 and 2008. It even has a “Notice Num­ber”: 47494705, the mean­ing of which is not ex­plained.

It also shows the vot­ing his­tory of six oth­ers who live on her street, Ber­dan Avenue, in­clud­ing that of her grand­mother, Pa­tri­cia Lind­ner, who shares the same ad­dress.

And, as if Ms. Lind­ner had asked to be kept ap­prised of her vot­ing his­tory, it says, “As a fur­ther ser­vice, we will be up­dat­ing our records af­ter the ex­pected high turn­out for the Tues­day, No­vem­ber, 6, 2012 elec­tion. We will then send an up­dated vote his­tory au­dit to you and your neigh­bors with the re­sults.”

Its con­clu­sion in­forms Ms. Lind­ner: “Please be sure to con­tinue your par­tic­i­pa­tion and ex­er­cise your right and re­spon­si­bil­ity to vote.”

Univer­sity of Toledo po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor David Wil­son, who heard about the let­ter through Ms. Lind­ner's grand­mother, said, “It seems to me to be a clear at­tempt at voter in­tim­i­da­tion, and thus vote sup­pres­sion.”

He the­o­rized the in­tent of the let­ter is to make young vot­ers think twice about par­tic­i­pat­ing if it means in­for­ma­tion about them is be­ing com­mu­ni­cated to their neigh­bors.

Mr. Wil­son said the let­ter might have tar­geted Ms. Lind­ner for her youth and as­sumed that she would be an Obama sup­porter.

“I think at least some of the re­cip­i­ents will be wor­ried about this,” Mr. Wil­son said. “If I’m a lit­tle con­cerned about this, might this make me think twice about vot­ing?”

Iron­i­cally, Ms. Linder leans Lib­er­tar­ian, which is a con­ser­va­tive phi­los­o­phy, and plans to vote for a third-party can­di­date.

“I can’t rec­on­cile my so­cial be­liefs by vot­ing Re­pub­li­can and I can’t rec­on­cile my eco­nomic be­liefs by vot­ing Dem­o­crat,” she said.

The vot­ing in­for­ma­tion is pub­licly avail­able through the Lu­cas County Board of Elec­tions, and is the type of in­for­ma­tion po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns rou­tinely ob­tain to make cam­paign de­ci­sions, such as whether a voter votes fre­quently or has pulled a Demo­cratic or Re­pub­li­can bal­lot in the past.

The let­ter was signed by Wil­liam A. Wal­ter, the pres­i­dent of Amer­i­cans for Lim­ited Govern­ment. The group’s Web site pro­vides tele­phone num­bers and email ad­dresses, but calls and emails from The Blade to the or­ga­ni­za­tion on Wed­nes­day were not re­turned.

The group is ac­tive in con­ser­va­tive is­sues. Its Web site lists more than 700 news re­leases com­ment­ing on po­lit­i­cal is­sues from a con­ser­va­tive an­gle over the last four years. It has also spent money to sup­port and op­pose can­di­dates, in­clud­ing two Demo­cratic Con­gres­sio­nal in­cum­bents from Ohio in 2010.

The let­ter has popped up in other states. The Sec­re­tary of State of In­di­ana is­sued a state­ment urg­ing vot­ers to dis­re­gard let­ters claim­ing to be an au­dit of vot­ing ac­tiv­ity.

Con­tact Tom Troy at: tom­troy@the­blade.com or 419-724-6058.