Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign has been criticized for a mailer sent to voters in Iowa that shows a voting “score” and urges the voter to (emphasis theirs) “CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE.”
The story was first reported by Independent Journal Review.
The backside of the mailers is headlined, “VOTING VIOLATION” and shows voting grades for the voter and their neighbors. Cruz campaign spokesperson Rick Tyler confirmed the authenticity of the mailers and told IJReview that the targeting was “very narrow, but the caucuses are important and we want people who haven’t voted before to vote.” The mailers implies that the grades are official and handled by the government, but this is not the case.
Iowa’s Secretary of State, Paul Pate, blasted the fliers in a statement posted online:
Today I was shown a piece of literature from the Cruz for President campaign that misrepresents the role of my office, and worse, misrepresents Iowa election law. Accusing citizens of Iowa of a “voting violation” based on Iowa Caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act. There is no such thing as an election violation related to frequency of voting. Any insinuation or statement to the contrary is wrong and I believe it is not in keeping in the spirit of the Iowa Caucuses.
Additionally, the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office never “grades” voters. Nor does the Secretary of State maintain records related to Iowa Caucus participation. Caucuses are organized and directed by the state political parties, not the Secretary of State, nor local elections officials.
Shame mailers like the ones sent have been used in the past. The progressive group MoveOn sent mailers labelled, “Voter Report Card,” in 2012, although they also went to people who regularly voted. This type of mailer is commonly criticized on social media for shaming voters.
It is possible that the mailers could backfire for Cruz as voters talking to the IJReview said they planned to caucus for candidates other than Cruz on Monday night. The latest polling shows Cruz narrowly behind frontrunner Donald Trump in the crucial first state.