Is Voter Intimidation a Problem in the Wisconsin Recall Election?

In the bitter fight for voters in the Wisconsin recall election, one liberal group uses an unorthodox tactic to turn out the vote.


Republican Gov. Scott Walker is up for recall in Wisconsin Tuesday against Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, the current mayor of Milwaukee. The race has captured national attention, as did the protests over Walker's proposal to cut collective bargaining rights for state workers in early 2011. The measure sparked massive demonstrations that went on for weeks, with his proposal eventually passing in the Wisconsin legislature.

Liberal and conservative groups have been pouring money into the election since November, when Walker opponents had succeeded in officially putting him up for recall by collecting 900,000 signatures (540,000 are required to initiate a recall). About $63 million has been spent on the election so far, with conservative groups spending $16 million and Democratic organizations spending about $14 million.

[See photos of Wisconsin Voters Heading to the Polls.]

Among the relentless ad campaigns from both sides, liberal group Greater Wisconsin Committee stood out this week by sending a mailer to registered voters that included the names of neighbors and their voting histories. In an attempt to get out the vote for the recall election, the mailer says that Walker won in the first place because not enough people voted. "Look at the list below; are there neighbors on this list you know? Call them or knock on their door before Election Day, and ask them to go vote," the mailer encouraged.

While whether or not someone voted in a particular election is public record, some see this campaign as aggressively targeting those who didn’t vote by calling them out by name to their neighbors and even as an attempt to intimidate or shame them into voting. Yet groups have had to employ creative tactics to cut through all the campaigning noise surrounding the election, and Greater Wisconsin Committee has done nothing illegal by using this marketing strategy.

What do you think? Should the Greater Wisconsin Committee have used voter histories in their mailers? Click here to take the poll and comment below.