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Controversial mailer shares neighborhood voting records

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Nov 02 2012 10:09:20 PM MDT
Updated On: Nov 02 2012 10:14:20 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Some Montana people are furious over a mailer that tells them who in their neighborhood voted in the 2004 and 2008 elections.

Americans for Limited Government, a group from Virginia, is behind sending out the letters or what they call "vote history audits.”  The group says the point of the letters is to encourage people to vote in "critical elections."

Missoula resident Larry Highland received a letter and says he feels this is a strange tactic to try and motivate people to vote.  He says he’s frustrated that the information given in his letter wasn't even accurate.

“I was very irritated because I've voted in every election for the last 40 years and then this group tells me, ‘No you didn't vote in the 2004 election,’” said Highland.  “I would have thought different if this group had their information right but the fact that they have it wrong, well I think more people would be turned off by that.” 

Missoula County election officials say most people don't realize election information such as whether an individual voted is open to the public. 

“Information like your name, address and whether or not you received an absentee ballot or not is public information,” said Missoula County election administrator Vickie Zeier. 

Zeier says which candidates you voted for is private, but other people are allowed to know whether you participated in a particular election. 

Highland says he feels sending out “invasive” information like this doesn’t encourage people to vote, rather it makes them upset.  He says Americans for Limited Government is trying to guilt people into voting but instead they are making people mad by publicizing information that isn’t accurate.   

“You're misinforming the public because I did vote and I've got proof that I voted,” said Highland.  “I even went out of my way to make sure that they did have a record of me voting and so they need to get it right. If you're going to do something like this at least get it right.”

At the bottom of their “audit” letter Americans for Limited Government states it will be following up this November’s election with another “audit” informing people which of their neighbors decided to participate in this year’s election.