By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
In November of 2014, I wrote an article describing how a New York based political committee had been accused of sending what many saw as an intimidating letter to party voters who have chosen not to vote in previous elections. Whether this was considered peer pressure, inducing worry, or encouraging others to vote had not diminished the controversy and showed an insight into some of the tactics political parties use to generate more votes to their cause. Letters such as this raise questions as to the ethics of shaming citizens to vote. The right not to vote is considered a lawful option of the electorate.
Now, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate strongly rebuked the Ted Cruz campaign for performing the same scare tactics to worry or shame voters into turning out for caucus voting in Iowa.
The mailing sent to voters gave them poor grades based upon their voting history. One side of the mailing read, “ELECTION ALERT: VOTER VIOLATION,” “PUBLIC RECORD” and “FURTHER ACTION NEEDED.” The other that had printing in large red letters reading, “VOTING VIOLATION”.
The mailing continued with the following:
“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.”
“Accusing citizens of Iowa of a “voting violation” based on Iowa Caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act. 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.”
Additionally, the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office never ‘grades’ voters. Nor does the Secretary of State maintain records related to Iowa Caucus participation,” Pate said. “Also, the Iowa Secretary of State does not ‘distribute’ voter records. They are available for purchase for political purposes only, under Iowa Code.”
Cruz Campaign Spokeswoman Alice Stewart claimed on behalf of her organization responsibility for the mailing.
Ted Cruz when questioned by reporters in Sioux City demonstrated his defiance toward the criticism of the mailing.
“I will apologize to no one for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote.”
Well folks, there you have it. I believe that Mr. Cruz summed up quite clearly and succinctly what he actually thinks of voters: a mere tool to elevate him to his political ambitions. It speaks loudly of a desperate tool to win since if he believes he likely will come in second otherwise, he has only to gain if such intimidation or shaming stunts such as this actually work.
“Every tool we can”, what other tools do you have Mr. Cruz to get people to come out and vote? How about utilizing the tactics of the Rajneeshees in Oregon in the early 1980’s. Or perhaps send out some goons to “encourage” people to come to the vote?
If people don’t want to vote, or are unable to for whatever reason, it is their civil right to do so. There is a voter strategy you might not be aware of Mr. Cruz, it is called boycotting. It is used when citizens refuse to vote because they believe the election is a sham, that they have no real choice, or because it is pointless since the system is dominated by one or two political parties that control the political system. How a citizen votes or does not vote is nobody’s business but their own and for you to imply some sort of penalty will be levied against them shows how dishonorable your campaign must really be, and by extension to you sir since you clearly support these tactics.
Not every citizen commands expertise in campaign or voting law, but the Cruz campaign through this act takes advantage of those who are vulnerable. His is a type of disenfranchisement since it could be that flavors of this type of mail campaigning might lead to demanding voters complete their ballots in an approved fashion or else.
Ted Cruz in my opinion portrayed for Iowa voters a worrisome clairvoyance of what we might expect from him in an administrative capacity as president.
Will he stop at just intimidating and shaming the voters, or is the voting process going to be his next expeditionary campaign?
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.