There are efforts afoot in many states to address election integrity following the strangeness of the 2020 general election. In Arizona, for example, a judge has ruled that a full forensic audit can be conducted in Maricopa County.
Judge ruled our Subpoena is valid. We will conduct a forensic audit of the Maricopa County Election.
— Warren Petersen (@votewarren) February 26, 2021
And states like Wisconsin and Georgia are introducing legislation to require voter ID and restrict outside spending on elections. Which, if nothing else, will be a psychological salve to those who saw the carnage of 2020 and wondered if something was a bit off. But there are other efforts that should also be examined that have less to do with election administration and more to do with voter coercion; that is, manipulating voters into staying away from the polls altogether or changing their votes so that they won’t be subject to the scourge of cancel culture.
A fascinating piece in the American Spectator lays out, for example, one such effort in Georgia in the run-up to the hotly contested Senate runoff. If you’ve felt like this has all been some kind of social science experiment and voters were the rats in the maze, this article gives those feelings legitimacy.
In the weeks before Georgia’s momentous election on January 5, 2021, some voters received an unusual letter supposedly from an institution called the Center for Civic Information (CCI). The outside of the envelope enticingly declared, “INSIDE: YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD’S VOTING GRADE.”
The enclosed CCI letter listed seven neighborhoods by individual residents’ names, as in “John Doe’s Neighborhood.” Each recipient’s neighborhood, designated with that recipient’s name, topped the list.
Next to this list were two columns. The first was headed “Current Grade” and contained letter grades for each neighborhood. The second column was headed “2021 Runoff Election Grade” and contained blanks for grades that supposedly would be awarded after January 5.
The letter ominously closed:
After the January 5th Runoff Election, we intend to mail an updated chart. You and your neighbors will all know which neighborhoods vote the candidate, and which just vote for the party. So don’t be a party voter, and vote for candidates from both parties this Election Day.
The CCI letter appears to be based on a political science experiment conducted in 2006. Researchers tested the effects of social pressure on voter turnout.
As part of the experiment, voters received a letter informing them their voting records are public information. That letter, now known in academic circles as the Neighbors Letter, revealed both the recipients’ and their neighbors’ voting turnout history. The Neighbors Letter also informed recipients that a follow-up mailing after the upcoming election would report to the neighborhood each recipient’s turnout in the election.
Not hard to imagine many Republican voters in Georgia weren’t eager to cast their votes or to vote a certain way knowing their preferences would be broadcast to their neighbors who may have decided to vote differently.
I discuss all that on today’s podcast, as well as what happens to Hollywood now that China is hinting they don’t need their product anymore (hint: it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world).
I also give some time to the truly fantastic “WandaVision” (trailer below), a smart and complex offshoot of the MCU that could keep that flame burning longer and hotter than it maybe would have otherwise.
Fill the next 30 minutes with my dulcet tones.