Public voter report card upsets eastern Henrico neighborhood

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Viewers are calling NBC12 to complain about a voter audit sent out to households across Virginia. It's a letter that calls you out in front of your neighbors if you did not cast a ballot in the election.

People are saying this is an invasion of privacy, but the ugly truth is it's all legal!

A spokesperson with the Virginia State Board of Elections tells NBC12 these mailers about voter history have gone out across the Commonwealth. People living in a neighborhood on Meadow Road in Sandston talked to NBC12 about their concerns.

It's the type of report card Lawren Cousins says should not have been public.

"I don't think it's okay that they should publicly shame me into voting," she said.

Part of the letter reads, "You are one of the few individuals in your neighborhood that is not a regular voter…we're contacting you and your neighbors." Cousins says she feels like her privacy has been violated.

"I feel like if you go and vote, it's private," she said. "So if it's your choice not to vote, it's private."

Her neighbor's information is also listed, which doesn't sit well with Morgan Harris who lives next door.

"It's your own private choice whether you choose to go vote or not, it's your right to vote but nothing says that you have to," he said.

This mailer came from the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a private organization in Arlington.

This letter is actually legal, according to the State Board of Elections. A spokesperson cited a legal case that said withholding voter information is unconstitutional. The board does not sell this information but says, "The SBE is legally compelled to release such information to third-parties. These organizations likely obtained this data from a commercial data vendor that obtains the data from SBE and sells to third-parties."

Here's AFPF's response: "Americans for Prosperity Foundation's goal is to get as many Virginians to vote as possible. Sometimes our methods are non-traditional, but we believe Virginia, and ultimately America, is best served when there is a high voter participation rate."

But does a message like this actually work? "No," says Cousins. "It discouraged me from voting."

In the end, the SBE says the department has no discretion over who gets this information.

The SBE spokesperson says the Voter Participation Center is another organization sending out similar letters. You should contact these organizations directly to tell them how you feel.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.