OR, Wash. residents receive voting ‘report cards’

The Democratic Party of Oregon sent out the fliers that graded residents based on how they'd participated in the past few elections.

This voting report card was sent by the Democratic Party of Oregon. November 3, 2016, (KOIN)
This voting report card was sent by the Democratic Party of Oregon. November 3, 2016, (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Some Oregon residents were surprised to get a voting report card in the mail this week.

How would you like to get a public grade on how you vote? That is what’s happening right now in Oregon and southwest Washington.

It’s a “get out the vote” strategy that has some voters upset.

Some voters are calling it public shaming, and others question the legality of the tactic. It turns out, though, it is legal.

Mary is an Oregon voter who received a voter "report card" from a political party, November 3, 2016 (KOIN)
Mary is an Oregon voter who received a voter “report card” from a political party, November 3, 2016 (KOIN)

Viewers contacted KOIN 6 News about mailers sent out by the Democratic Party of Oregon, saying residents better vote or else someone may call to find out why they resident didn’t vote.

The mailers reveal a lot of personal information is available to anyone who registers to vote:

This is what upset an Oregon voter named Mary, who usually tosses the flood of political flyers. Yet this one pictured below, addressed to her overseas daughter, caught her eye.

The report cards had three different grades on them: excellent, good and average. The grades are defined below:

  • Excellent – Voted in 3 of the last 3 general elections
  • Good – Voted in 2 of the last 3 general elections
  • Average – Voted in one of the last 3 general elections
This voting report card was sent by the Democratic Party of Oregon. November 3, 2016, (KOIN)
This voting report card was sent by the Democratic Party of Oregon. November 3, 2016, (KOIN)

The report card also includes a reminder that Oregon ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on November 8.

There’s also a threat, she said, if a voter doesn’t send in a ballot.

“They’re singling out people like we’re going after you, specifically we have your voting record. They try to term this shaming, but it’s bullying,” said Mary.

KOIN 6 News learned that both political parties have sent out similar fliers. In Clark County, some voters got a similar flier from Republican party backers.

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office said while ballot decisions are private, names, addresses, party information and whether residents voted in previous elections are all public record. Political groups buy lists to target voters.

Mary said there are better ways to get people to return their ballot.

The Democratic Party of Oregon released the following statement on the fliers:

“The Democratic Party believes it is extremely important that folks vote. We put an enormous effort into reaching out to voters who’ve missed elections to make sure they have information on the candidates and how to vote so they get their ballot in and counted.

“We’ve had lots of positive feedback, particularly on helping people cast their ballot. That includes making sure they know the postage to mail in their ballot – it’s one 47 cent or ‘forever stamp’ – or drop box locations to drop off their ballot. In addition, we give them information on connecting with our Voter Protection Hotline if they have any challenges voting.

“The mailing is based entirely on public records – and sent directly to the voter. If someone is unhappy about learning their voting record, or that they missed voting in an election, we give them an email and phone number they can contact to be removed from future mailings.

“This is one of the most important elections we’ve ever seen, with critical races up and down the ballot. We’re making extra effort to let voters know how high the stakes really are and encourage them to not miss this election. Every vote counts, and we want to make sure their voices are heard this election.”