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State Dems sending 'voter shaming' letters

ALBANY -- The New York State Democratic Party, apparently concerned about enthusiasm for next week's election, is pressuring its own members to vote and warning that turnout will be monitored.

The party sent letters to enrolled Democrats saying it will review voting records to see if the recipient cast a ballot. If they don't, the party writes that it "will be interested to hear why not."

It's a tactic some call "voter shaming," which has been used by liberals and conservatives in other states but apparently not in New York until this year.

"We will be reviewing the New York County official voting records after the election to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014," according to a copy of the letter obtained by Newsday. "If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not."

A version of the letter to a Brooklyn resident begins: "The New York State Democratic Party monitors the level of voting in your neighborhood."

The Associated Press first reported the letters.

Party officials said the letters are "standard practice in campaigns throughout the country" and provided examples used elsewhere, including Alaska, North Carolina and Virginia. The effort is meant to prod people who are registered but don't regularly vote.

"This flyer is part of the nationwide Democratic response to traditional Republican voter suppression efforts -- because Democrats believe our democracy works better when more people vote, not less," Cuomo campaign spokesman Peter Kauffmann said in an email.

State & Region