In spite of the Democratic Party of North Carolina doing their level best to bring out the vote in yesterday’s mid-term General Election, to include examples of intimidating and threatening letters sent to party faithful, the Democrats were trounced across the state. As reported by The Tribune Papers news portal of western North Carolina on Nov. 4, 2014, a number of registered Democrats from across the state are stepping forward asking why their own Party is intimidating and threatening them.
When charges of public shaming and personal intimidation first reared its ugly head in the Empire State, the New York Post flatly ran the less than subtle headline of “Democrats: Vote or we’ll kick your ass” on Oct. 30, 2014. In what the NY Post describes as a line better suited to a mob movie than a major political party, The New York State Democratic Committee mailed over one million notices to registered Democrats urging them to hit the polls on Election Day. But the ended the rah-rah mailer not with a note of encouragement, but with what many incensed Democrats are describing as a threatening letter: “If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.” As one anonymous Big Apple Democrat said plainly, “It’s a scare piece that is unnecessary and inappropriate.”
According to former New York Governor and current Chairman of the NY Democratic Committee David Paterson, the letter and it’s intimidating tone is essentially no big deal. Paterson defended the letters, calling the mailer a “standard practice throughout the country.”
Initially making news in the Down East city of Wilmington, NC on Oct. 31, 2014 by the Port City’s WWAY, many registered Democrats in New Hanover County found notices in their mailboxes that may not have been verbatim from their Northern brethren, but the reaction was much the same. Possibly the Democratic Party of North Carolina may not have known exactly who they were dealing with, but Dierdre Dunn of nearby Castle Hayne left little to the imagination how personally insulted she was.
“I was not a little. I was very incensed,” Miss Dierdre said, adding “This is America. We have the right to not vote if we so choose not to” (see WWAY video report here). While the offending letter did begin by stating that the Party “has monitored her and her neighborhood’s voting habits and they [the Party] is disappointed for failing to vote in past elections. The last part of the letter says, “if you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why you let your community down by failing to vote.” Reportedly, Miss Dierdre attempted to contact former State Rep. Patsy Keever, who was listed as the state’s “Election Day Coordinator.” While the Party was able to contact the angry voter twice by mail, they have yet to respond to her phone call.
Meanwhile Up State in the more mountainous western counties, registered Democrats were subjected to much of the same. At the end of a “get out the vote” mailer, voters found the ending of the notice to be what some have described as a threat:
After the election is over, we will be reviewing the Buncombe County official voting records to determine whether you supported your neighbors and community in 2014 by voting. If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why you let your community down by failing to vote.
Election Day Coordinator
As Roger McCredie of TheTribunePapers.com (citation and link above) made note in his hard-hitting investigative report; “Keever said she had authorized the distribution of a get-out-the-vote letter, but that the letter’s text was written by a public relations firm. She indicated she had not seen the letter, which uses Democratic party logos and a footer saying, ‘paid for by North Carolina Democratic Party,’ in its final form.”
Following up, McCredie contacted Gina Wright, Communications Director of the Democratic Party of North Carolina:
Dear Ms. Wright:
“Buncombe was one of the counties in which voters who allegedly had a less than 100% voting record were targeted with letters considered by many to be privacy-invasive and even threatening. The Buncombe County letters were sent out over the name (but not the signature) of Patsy Keever. Ms. Keever has gone on record as saying that while she authorized the letters in principle, she was not aware of their content, as they were prepared by a PR firm. She has apologized for the ‘abrasive’ tone of the letters to those recipients who felt offended or intimidated by them.
[The Tribune’s] questions, then, are:
“1. Who is the PR firm? Is it state-based or was it engaged by the national Democratic Party? If national, did it also execute the similarly worded letters that have been received by voters in other states?
2. Ms. Keever qualified her apology by saying, ‘While some may find the tactic offensive, social strategy is a tactic that has been proven effective in getting out the vote — and that is the point!’ Is this the official party line, and, if so, does it mean that state voters can expect such activity in future elections?
3. Individual voting records, as these letters indicate, are public record and can be retrieved instantly. As far as the party is concerned, does this ease of access trump personal privacy?
McCredie has yet to receive a response. Nonetheless, the reporter does note that The Tribune will continue to follow the story.