New Portland woman calls election letter 'threatening'

When election mailers get too personal

FARMINGTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A New Portland woman is upset after receiving a get-out-the-vote letter that she says crosses a line.

Last week, Bonnie Brinegar received a piece of paper in the mail that had a record of which recent elections she’s voted in on it. That's public information and doesn't bother her, but one line in particular did.

Essentially, it asked, “How would your friends, family and neighbors feel if they saw your voting record?” Brinegar said.

How you have voted is public information, and Brinegar said someone looking that up wouldn’t bother her. Instead, it's what she calls the “threat” —  that the people who sent that letter might tell her friends and family about it — that has her upset, especially since the document wasn’t accurate. 

“If you are going to essentially intimidate someone or threaten them in any kind of manner to get out and vote, you'd think you'd at least make sure your data is correct,” she said.

The letter was from the Progressive Turnout Project, a political action committee (PAC) that urges people in competitive congressional districts to vote.

When Bonnie got the flyer, she had already voted the week before and was so upset she almost drove to its return address in Auburn.

“It makes you extremely upset," she said. "You feel violated."

On its website, the Progressive Turnout Project said it "designs tests and executes specialized voter turnout programs targeting sporadic Democratic voters."

Bonnie calls that strategy ineffective and unhelpful, especially since the PAC was wrong about her history.

“Take out the sections of it that sound like a threat,” she said. “If you want to say, 'please participate,' that's fine, but don't say, 'How would you like it if we tell everybody what you have or haven't done?'”

Brinegar also hopes her story prompts Maine’s election officials to look into this type of situation to determine if it is a type of voter intimidation.

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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