"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: email@example.com or 419-724-6058.