The Potluck

Official sounding Center for Voter Information clogging mailboxes

By: - October 27, 2020 4:27 pm

Mail from the Center for Voter Information is filling up mailboxes across Minnesota.

Some Minnesota voters have become very familiar with mailings from the Center for Voter Information, which show up in mailboxes every couple of days or so, even if they’ve already voted.

Among the mailings are “report cards” on how often people have voted, with the somewhat ominous warning: “We will be reviewing these records after the election to determine whether or not you joined your neighbors in voting.” They note, like an eighth-grade teacher, that they may call after the election and will be “interested to hear” why people may have chosen not to vote. One even includes a chart comparing residents’ voting record with their neighbors (with the neighbors’ names blacked out).

Another compares the residents’ voting record to the national average.

Also included in the mailings are the presidential candidates’ positions on lowering drug prices, pandemic unemployment benefits, and free community college.

The center’s push to get people to vote, and vote absentee, was the subject of a recent ProPublica investigation, which said the CVI sent applications to dead people and pets and although they claim to be nonpartisan, have supported Democrats (which is pretty clear from the mailers on strategically selected “key issues”). Election officials accused the center of burying them in unnecessary paperwork and calls, especially if people confuse them with an official government agency.

Spokeswoman Risikat Adesaogun said the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office has gotten questions about the mailers, and while the office can’t stop such groups from sending out absentee ballot applications (anyone can get the Minnesota voter file for a small fee), they have encouraged people to double check to make sure their ballots make it to the proper county elections office.

“We’ve also been pushing folks to use the online tool whenever possible because every piece of mail that comes in requires someone to open, read, and type in the info,” she said. “But even so, we’re in a good place in Minnesota.”

The center is not the only group that’s been sending mailings to voters encouraging them to vote absentee, and in most cases the application is a copy of the state’s official form and should work, Minnesota election officials say. However, the secretary of state said people should make sure the return envelope is addressed to their county or city elections office.

And if you’ve already applied for a ballot, or voted, or plan to vote at the polls on Election Day, just ignore the mailings. All 34 of them.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Before joining the staff of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and very grand child. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, garden and attempt to check out all the best restaurants in the metro area.

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