Late last week, the progressive group Greater Wisconsin Political Fund sent mailers to registered voters in the state demanding that people hold their neighbors accountable for their vote. Jazz Shaw wrote about it this weekend, linking back to a first-person account from Ann Althouse, who posted the mailer on her blog, and our own Madison Conservative first alerted us to the issue. Althouse wrote:
This is an effort to shame and pressure people about voting, and it is truly despicable. Your vote is private, you have a right not to vote, and anyone who tries to shame and an harass you about it is violating your privacy, and the assumption that I will become active in shaming and pressuring my neighbors is repugnant.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports today that Althouse isn’t alone in her outrage. Wisconsin voters are not feeling particularly neighborly toward GWPF after this mailer and the blatant intimidation campaign they’re waging:
Jane Boutan thought it was an invasion of privacy.
Corrine Greuling worried about her safety.
Viola Miller wondered if it could be used to steal her vote.
They and others got upset after the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund mailed fliers over the weekend listing people’s names, addresses and whether they voted in the November 2008 and 2010 elections, as well as the same information for a dozen of their neighbors.
“What am I supposed to do? Go shame my neighbor? Whether my neighbor voted or not is none of my business,” said Boutan, who lives in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood.
The newspaper reports that the Government Accountability Board has received a flood of complaints over the mailer, and one voter tells the MJS that the mailer could be used to commit voter fraud:
“Anybody can go and vote with my name, and there’s my vote stolen for somebody I might not have voted for,” said Miller. “It wasn’t even in an envelope. It’s got my name and address on one side of a piece of paper open to everybody.”
In one sense, the mailing itself looks like a demonstration of impotence. They ask recipients to door-knock for their cause, but that’s something union organizers generally have no problem doing for themselves. They’re apparently either unwilling or unable to do it for themselves this year. That tells us something about the strength of the unions in this election.
Another indicator of union strength is the intensity of the Democratic embrace of their agenda in this recall. Politico reports that it’s at the Barack Obama level:
The bitter battle over union rights in Wisconsin sent masses of angry protesters flooding into the streets, placed the state at the center of a national debate over Big Labor’s power and sparked the historic recall to topple GOP Gov. Scott Walker.
But you’d hardly know it from the campaign to replace him.
On the eve of the June 5 recall election, the issue of collective bargaining has become just a footnote in the hard-fought battle for Wisconsin. Democrats gloss over the issue in campaign speeches, political advertisements and debates in favor of zeroing in on Walker’s tactics. Democrats and labor groups run separate field operations. And the party’s nominee, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, wears the fact that he wasn’t labor’s top choice for the ticket as a badge of honor. …
Still, backing away from the contentious issue may hurt him and other Democrats in their final push to get voters to the polls in a race that could hinge on turnout. It’s also opened them to GOP criticism that they are shying away from what they see as a losing issue.
“It’s funny, because this thing was supposed to be about collective bargaining, but I don’t remember the Democrats talking about collective bargaining in this campaign,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told reporters last week on a conference call. He called the issue a “dead dog loser” for the left.
Even Democrats appear to agree with Priebus on that point. Perhaps the tactics of groups like the GWPF might be one reason why.
Update: I forgot to mention Madison Conservative in that opening paragraph, but I’ve fixed it now.
Update II: GAB stands for Government Accountability Board, not General. I’ve fixed it above.