Jane Boutan thought it was an invasion of privacy. Corrine Greuling worried about her safety. Viola Miller wondered if it could be used to steal her vote. They and others got upset after the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund mailed fliers over the weekend listing people’s names, addresses and whether they voted in the November 2008 and 2010 elections, as well as the same information for a dozen of their neighbors. “What am I supposed to do? Go shame my neighbor? Whether my neighbor voted or not is none of my business,” said Boutan, who lives in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood. The fliers arrived in mailboxes over the weekend. The Greater Wisconsin Political Fund, which is affiliated with the Greater Wisconsin Committee, is a liberal group that has run ads against Republican Gov. Scott Walker to help Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in Tuesday’s recall election. The group did not respond to voicemail and email messages Monday afternoon, so the scope and cost of the effort was not known. But the Journal Sentinel heard from people across the metro area, from Oak Creek to Glendale, and Waukesha to Wauwatosa. Addressed to registered voters, the fliers say: “Who votes is public record! Why do so many people fail to vote? We’ve been talking about the problem for years, but it only seems to get worse. This year, we’re taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote.”
Another version of the flier reads: “Scott Walker won in 2010 because too many people stayed home! Two years ago, more than half a million Wisconsinites who supported Obama failed to vote in the 2010 election. And that’s how Governor Scott Walker got elected. This year, we’re taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote.” This version of the flier encouraged people to call or knock on their neighbors’ doors to ask them to vote on Tuesday.
Before listing names, addresses and the voting history of the flier recipient and a dozen of their neighbors, the mailing warns that after Tuesday’s election “public records will tell everyone who voted and who didn’t. Do your civic duty – vote.” Greuling, who voted absentee in Tuesday’s election, said she fears for her safety because the information on the fliers could be used by criminals and identity thieves. “I think this is invasion of my privacy and every other woman’s privacy. It’s like – here, this is where all the women are” in her neighborhood, said Greuling.