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'Vote Shaming' Alleged As Controversial Letters Fill Local Mailboxes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - With election day just hours away, voting is top of mind for many people.

Some organizations are trying to make sure Nov. 6 voting is in everyone's mind by sending very specific reminders that have some voters upset, reports CBS2's Reena Roy.

Ellen Feldman of Closer, N.J., was one such voter who got a mysterious "Where have you been?" mailing that is showing up in millions of mailboxes.

"I didn't understand why they were doing this, and I also didn't understand who was doing this," she said.

The letter suddenly appearing before the midterm elections, customized to show the recipient's specific voter history - particularly the elections years missed and how it compares others in the respective state.

GET READY TO VOTE: When & Where To Cast Your Vote For Nov. 6 Elections

Some in Fort Lee are not happy to get this mail.

"It really was kind of like a voter shaming and I didn't like it," said Feldman. "I didn't think it was legitimate."

Letter sent to voters with their personal voting history criticized. (Credit: CBS2)

"Organizations sending out those letters of shame, I don't feel like it's right," said Lourdes Madera of Fort Lee.

One of the non-profits behind some of these letters says it's simply a push to get people to the polls.

Page Gardner, president of the Voter Participation Center, spoke to CBS2 by phone.

"Informing someone of their voting records is really inspirational," she said. "We're not shaming anyone, we're encouraging them to vote."

Gardner's national nonpartisan organization based in Washington DC uses public state records to target usually active but sometimes inconsistent voters.

In the last month alone, it has sent out 839,000 similar letters in New Jersey and 1.6 million to New York residents.

"Our focus is to send to those people who are most likely in some instances to drop off between a presidential election," said Gardner. "We want their voices to be heard."

Gardner says these reminders do make a difference and have proven to be successful in improving voter turnout.

Voter Participation Center is not the only organization that sends similar "voter report cards." People can opt out by going online or calling the organization to unsubscribe.


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