Unmarked postcards sent to Pennsylvanians tell them ‘if you vote, it’s a public record’ Spotlight PA


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HARRISBURG — A handwritten postcard with vague sender information reminding some Pennsylvania voters of the May 17 primary appears to comply with the law, but the language has confused some recipients and raised concerns about harassment.

“Thank you for being a former voter,” says the postcard, photos of which were sent to Spotlight PA by a concerned reader. “Who you vote for is private, but whether you vote is a public record. Be a voter on May 17!

The postcard is signed “Pam” but contains no additional identifying information indicating the recipient who created or sent it. It also has a link to the state’s voting website – vote.pa.gov – leading the reader to believe that he was sent by the State.

Spotlight PA corresponded to the graphic on the postcard to a campaign launched by a progressive political action committee called the Progressive Participation Project.

The Progressive Turnout Project is dedicated to getting likely Democratic voters to go to the polls, targeting first-time and inconsistent voters, according to its website. In a blog post 2021the PAC said it plans to focus on Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate primary in 2022.

PAC did not respond to a request for comment.

“[Voters] just need a push, some info and to hear from a real person,” said the CAP website. “That means every eligible non-voter we can reach brings Democrats one step closer to Election Day success.”

Shari Berg, an Allegheny County voter, received one of the postcards. She said the handwritten message been regarding and could cause voters to have doubts about the vote.

“That sort of thing wouldn’t stop me, but I’m sure there are some for whom it would make them think twice before going to the polls given the politically charged climate we live in these days,” Berg told Spotlight PA. “If the intention of this group was to encourage voting, they have failed in my view, with their choice of words.”

The Progressive Turnout Project says in their blog post that they conducted an experiment with four different handwritten messages, and this one was the most effective as a “social pressure campaign.” Even if some voters don’t like it, the PAC says the goal isn’t to make them happy.

“Some volunteers and voters find the social pressure posts distasteful,” the blog post says. “It’s important to keep in mind that the goal of social pressure messages is to increase turnout, not to make voters happy to receive a postcard.”

The Pennsylvania Department of State did not respond to a request for comment, but it appears the postcard did not violate any law.

Pennsylvania election law requires a person or group sending mail to identify who funded it if they are advocating for or against a candidate or ballot measure, which the postcard does not.

Still, Berg told Spotlight PA, “Not knowing who is sending you these communications only adds to the fear that some people may have about their voting habits being monitored.”

Courtesy of Shari Berg

A Spotlight PA reader was left confused and concerned by a handwritten postcard that read, “Who you vote for is private, but if you vote, it’s a public record.”

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