An election mailer is causing some confusion and leading to a stream of angry phone calls coming in to the Jackson County Election Board,
“Some of these groups, while they say they’re trying to be helpful, they’re not helpful because they’re freaking out our voters thinking they’re not registered to vote,” said Tammy Brown, co-director of the Election Board.
Brown said thousands of calls have come to her office in response to a mailer from the Voter Participation Center.
“According to public records, you reside in Jackson County and do not appear to be currently registered to vote,” the group’s letter states. There’s a voter registration form, already filled out with the voter’s information, and an envelope addressed to the Election Board.
“So then people think we’re sending it out,” Brown said.
The Voter Participation Center’s information, in many cases, is inaccurate, Brown said. Some people getting the letters are dead, some are too young to vote, and many have Kansas City addresses, meaning they would register with the Kansas City Election Board, not the Jackson County Election Board, which covers the county outside Kansas City.
“There’s a lot (of voters getting the letters) that are registered, but it freaks them out to think they’re not,” Brown said.
The Election Board put out a press release stressing that it had nothing to do with the Voter Participation Center mailing. It also points out that it only sends out voter ID cards, poll notification cards – white post cards a week or so ahead of an election – “Investigation of Voter Registration Addresses” and other general mailings on the Election Board’s letterhead.
“I have no idea where they (the Voter Participation Center) got their names,” Brown said. Other election offices around the state are dealing with the same thing, she said.
The Voter Participation Center caused a stir a few weeks ago when it sent out a mailing across the state reminding Missourians to register to vote by Oct. 17. In fact, that deadline is Oct. 12, next Tuesday.
An attorney for the group. Scott E. Thomas, sent a letter to the Missouri Secretary of State taking responsibility for that error and promising a follow-up postcard mailing with the correct information. He said 95,000 of the 306,000 mail pieces it sent out had the wrong registration deadline.
“VPC is a non-partisan, non-profit organization devoted to increasing civic engagement among historically under-represented segments of the Rising American Electorate: unmarried women, people of color, and millennials,” Thomas wrote. “VPC utilizes sophisticated direct mail techniques to increase voter registration and voting among the Rising American Electorate.”
The letter sent to voters talks of those issues, too, mentioning that “too many young black lives have been lost to our unjust criminal system” and urging people to register and vote to make a difference. “Black lives matter. Black votes matter. Please register to vote today. Thank you for taking the time to register to vote,” it concludes.
In its press release, the Election Board described the Voter Participation Center as being based in Springfield, Mo., though the group’s letter is signed by Gail Kitch, executive vice president for communication and finance at its office in Washington. The group does have a press release on its website owning up to its mistake last month with the registration deadline.