D.C. group behind 240,000 letters detailing Kentuckians’ past voting patterns

Letters with 'voting report card' mailed to Kentuckians from Washington, D.C. group

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - With just days to go before Kentucky voters head to the polls, some have received letters detailing their recent voting record.

The letters come from a Kentucky address, but were crafted by a group out of Washington, D.C. that said its goal is to increase voter turnout.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said her office predicts the state will see around 12.5 percent voter turnout.

Linda Huber, the Vice Chair of the Jefferson County Republican Party, said that’s something she wants to see changed.

"Disappointment, you know, America is a grand land and the gift we've been given is the right and the ability to vote," Huber said.

Huber, as well as Democratic Party leaders, said they plan to help people get to the polls by giving them rides and bringing awareness to who is up for election.

"I believe that people are a lot more excited this election cycle," Russell Lloyd, the Chair of the Louisville Democratic Party, said. "That number may be low."

Russell said that’s because he believes there’s excitement surrounding the gubernatorial election that may not have been taken into account.

Huber said the Jefferson County Republican Party is still in need of poll workers for election day. Those interested can contact organizers at 502-584-7111. A training will be held Saturday, May 18.

Representatives from both parties in Jefferson County said they were unaware of the mailer being sent out by the Center for Voter Information.

A CVI spokesperson said the Washington, D.C.-based group sent around 240,000 letters to Kentucky residents with a goal in mind.

“Increasing the participation in democracy among traditionally under-represented groups,” Page Gardner, the President and CEO of the Center for Voter Information, said.

The letter is addressed from Frankfort, Kentucky. It shows a “voting record” and lists whether or not people have voted in multiple General Elections and the 2015 primary election.

It also shows a diagram comparing a person's voting pattern to others in the state.

Gardner said the information is all publicly available.

"No one can know how you vote, but whether or not you vote is a matter of public record," the Voting Report Card reads in bold type.

Asked if Gardner was concerned methods that show voters they're being tracked might make them less likely to go to the polls, Gardner said there is no evidence of that, adding the data only shows if someone voted, not who they voted for.

Gardner said CVI primarily targets a turnout increase among unmarried women, people of color, young people and white working class women.

The Voting Report Cards include a phrase that may imply records will be checked after the primary election Tuesday.

"When we check the records after this election, I hope to see that you can cast a ballot," the letter reads.

It is attributed to a person named Lionel Dripps.

“The Center for Voter Information is a non-profit, non-partisan organization,” Gardner said.

Gardner added the group has been carrying out its mission for 16 years.

While the CVI leader said it is non-partisan, Federal Elections Commission records from 2017-2018 show a group with the same name and address spent about $90,000 opposing Republican candidates in other states.

Also, everyone WAVE 3 News has talked to who received the letter so far is a registered Democrat.

A spokesman for the group said CVI has donated to multiple political parties in the past, but couldn’t immediately identify Republican candidates it had supported.

The CVI spokesman added that donations are separate from the mail programs, which he said encourage people to vote regardless of party affiliation.

Those with the Center for Voter Information said the letters they’ve sent out provide a description as to how you can unsubscribe from their mailings.

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