Did you know that your friends and neighbors — or anyone else — can easily find out whether you voted?

Regarding the question in the headline above, I suspect that some people — perhaps lots of them — are unaware that whether they voted in a particular election is a matter of public record.

Don’t misunderstand. How you have voted is a secret, unless you choose to share that information with other folks. But if you have voted is not a secret, at least not if someone else wants to find out.

Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times had a column over the weekend about the so-called ground game — the get-out-the-vote effort — in this year’s presidential campaign. The piece included this FASCINATING PASSAGE:

The story of this new science of electioneering is told in an absorbing new book, “The Victory Lab,” by journalist Sasha Issenberg. He recounts a 2006 experiment in Michigan by Yale political scientists who sent voters letters that listed all of their neighbors by name — and threatened to send another letter after election day revealing who had voted and who had not.

The “shaming” letter caused an astonishing 27% jump in turnout among voters who received it. But it also provoked angry protests from voters who felt that their privacy was being invaded…

“There’s lots of research … that talking to people face to face makes them more likely to vote,” an Obama campaign official told me. “It helps to have their own neighbors talk with them. It helps to ask them when they plan to vote, and how they plan to get there; that way, they visualize themselves doing it. It helps to ask them to make a commitment.”

Does that sound a little Orwellian? Maybe. But it’s being done by both sides. And it’s encouraging, in an odd way, that it works best face to face, by volunteers from your own neighborhood. 


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