Troubling message from a friend

I got this troubling message this morning from a friend, a staunch Democrat:

Just received an automated phone message from the NC Republican Party informing me my absentee ballot was in the mail, please vote Republican and return it.

I wrote in a previous post, "Republican paid voter registration operation linked to fraud":

It’s not even Labor Day and it already looks like the 2012 election will be as messy and dirty as any general election has ever been.

Now it's after Labor Day and the deluge has begun.

 

Update 1: This is not just a random anomaly. After posting this information on Twitter and re-tweeting by Mark Binker (thanks Mark), Jonathan Kappler responded to Binker (thanks Jonathan):

Jonathan Kappler ‏@jonathankappler
@binker our office just got that same NCGOP robocall about absentee balllots

Jonathan Kappler ‏@jonathankappler
@binker for what it's worth, no one in our office has requested an absentee ballot

Jonathan Kappler ‏@jonathankappler
@binker it said paid for by the NC Republican Party, not authorized by any campaign or candidate

Update 2:
Jonathan Kappler had posted essentially the same synopsis of the message just a little earlier, about the same time I had posted to Twitter:

Jonathan Kappler ‏@jonathankappler
just got a call at our office from NCGOP saying absentee ballot has been mailed and asking me to vote Republican

Update 3:
For the record, NC absentee ballots have not yet been released, so anyone claiming to do so is lying: The Board of Elections calendar for the rest of the year is listed here:

September 7, 2012 - Absentee ballots ready for General Election
September 22, 2012 - UOCAVA ballots available for General Election
October 12, 2012, 5pm - Voter registration deadline for November 6 General Election. Forms must be postmarked or delivered in person by 5:00 pm today [NCGS 163-82.6(c)] *Individuals who miss the registration deadline may register in person and then vote at one-stop voting sites in the person’s county of residence during the one-stop absentee voting period (October 18-November 3). In order to register during a one-stop period, the applicant must show acceptable proof of name and residence in the county.
October 18, 2012 - One-stop absentee voting begins for General Election [NCGS 163-227.2(b)]; modified full-time county board offices remain open five days each week [NCGS 163-227.2(f)]
October 30, 2012 - Last day to request absentee ballots in writing (exceptions due to sickness or disability)[NCG​S 163-230.1(a)]
November 3, 2012 - One-stop absentee voting ends [NCGS 163-227.2(b)]
November 5, 2012, 5pm - Deadline to request absentee ballots for sickness/disabi​lity is 5:00 pm[NCGS 163-230.1(a1)]
November 5, 2012, 5pm - Absentee ballots must be received in CBE office by 5:00 p.m. [NCGS 163-231(b)] If mailed, returned absentee ballots will still be timely if postmarked on or before Election Day, and received no later than 5:00 pm on November 9, 2012.
November 6, 2012 - General Election Day - polls open 6:30am - 7:30pm [NCGS 163-1(c)] and UOCAVA ballot return deadline
November 16, 2012 - Canvass Day for county boards of elections [NCGS 163-182.5(b)]

Update 4:
Based on the feedback I've been getting this robocall has been received statewide and may be targeting Democratic women.

Update 5:
As more reports surface it appears this robocall is not narrowly targeted. One political reporter at the Democratic National Convention tweeted earlier:

Paul West ‏@paulwestdc
Robocall to a landline at our Democratic convention workspace: It's the NC GOP, urging us to return our absentee ballot application today.

As this tweet suggests, the language used may be even more ambiguous and confusing than previously thought. Only the Board of Elections can send out a pre-printed "absentee ballot application".

Update 6:
So my request is this: whether or not you received a robocall, if you do receive something in the mail from the Republican Party about absentee ballots, please let me know and please save it. If you received a call and subsequently received nothing from the Republican Party about absentee ballots, please let me know, especially if you received something about absentee ballots only from a third party like Americans for Prosperity (that could be evidence illegal coordination).

Update 7:
Mark Binker at WRAL has the in-depth story: Republican calls urge absentee voting including a copy of the robocall audio.

Comments

Absentee ballots not ready until Sept 7 ?

Yes, September 7

This is a major attempt to mislead people. Even if this was after September 7th it is totally misleading to confuse people by telling them an absentee ballot has been sent.

I also received a phone call

I also received a phone call from “Travis“ claiming to be with the Republican Party 9-5-12. He stated the absentee ballots were in the mail and that I should vote Republican. I called the provided 866 number and left them a nice little message -
“I wouldn't vote Republican if they paid me!”! Needless. If they're targeting Democratic women, that's exactly what I am.

866 number

Any chance you still have the 866 number? If so please email it to me: gregflynn(at)bluenc(dot)com

Update Mark Binker at WRAL has the in-depth story: Republican calls urge absentee voting including a copy of the robocall audio. The number is 866-940-2026.

This is illegal if true.

Filling out absentee ballot requests en masse was outlawed several years ago to keep exactly this from happening. Gonna make sure Democracy NC knows about this now.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Dirty trick either way

Whether it really is an absentee ballot or not on the way, it is a dirty trick to mislead people into thinking that one has been sent. People will think they either can't request one, because one is on the way, or can't vote in person because an absentee ballot is on the way or that tehy can't vote because they've already "voted"..

If they receive something and "vote" it could be anything from a bogus form sent to a bogus address to a bogus form to a real Board of Elections which could get the voter in trouble. There are so many ways this is a very bad thing.

Reports of calls

So far I've seen reports of calls in Raleigh, Charlotte & Asheville. Small sample but mostly Dem women.

Let me know if you have received it.

Chatham County too

I work at the Chatham County Dems office during the day, and the office got this call on their MagicJack number registered in the party's name. So it seems unlikely to me that Dem women are the target.

Thanks

Maybe Dem women are the most diligent about calling it out early. :)

If it helps...

I'm pretty sure the number we got called from was 919-933-4867

Someone needs to file a complaint:

Greg, you might be right. They could just be doing this to confuse people. But even that is breaking the law -- remember the Women Votes misguided robocalls of 2008 when they gave out wrong registered info and targeted African-American males? They ere trying to help, they said, but the NC Attorney General slapped them with something like a $40,000 fine. But if the GOP was indeed actually ordering Absentee Ballots for other people, they are definitely breaking selection law. Unless you are in the military... this rule applies. See http://ncelectionconnection.com/voting-in-nc/absentee-ballot/ for more details on the only allowable way to request an absentee ballot:

The request must be written entirely by the person making the request – it can be typed, but no form letter or pre-completed application can be used. You should provide this information:

Voter’s name.
Voter’s street address – it should match the voter’s registration address.
Address where the Absentee Ballot should be mailed.
The voter’s date of birth.
The signature of the voter or the near relative making the request.
If the requester is a relative, list the person’s name, address and relationship to the voter.
Provide a day-time phone number or email address in case your Board of Elections needs to contact you.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Southern Pines

They left the message on our machine. We're unaffiliated and did not request anything.

SPLib

Is there a way to get a copy of the recording from you?

Sorry

I deleted it.

Thinking about it some more, my recollection is that the caller said an absentee ballot APPLICATION was on the way and they urged us to fill it out and to vote Republican. From the descriptions above, I think it was the exact same message.

Nothing struck me as fishy at the time and my reaction (in my head as I was making lunch) was that I don't do absentee ballots and that as Unaffiliated we get MORE political calls with both sides after us. I think we show up on all the super voter lists as we vote in all primaries and elections we are eligible to vote in.

Thanks

What is fishy is that there is no "absentee ballot application" form that can be provided by anyone other than the Board of Elections directly to the voter (or near relative). State law prohibits pre-printed forms provided by third parties. The requests have to be individually prepared and signed. If anything is unusual about the request the Board of Elections will send an official absentee ballot application form directly to the voter (or near relative) trying to request a ballot. The GOP cannot send out these forms and the Board of Elections cannot accept them from a voter if the Board of Elections did not send them to a voter in the first place.

Interesting

Had I known that about absentee ballotts I might have paid more attention and perhaps saved the message. To me, it was "just another political call" although whether it was an application or ballot or something else (my memory on the specifics of what was in the mail is now corrupted) they said they were sending, I remember thinking it sounded like a good idea from a GOTV perspective.

More access would be better

The ban on form letters was a Dem idea from when absentee GOTV clearly meant GOTGOPV. I think it should be opened up but I don't think the completed requests should be intercepted by any political or third party.

Update from a Florida reader

Your article: Republican paid voter registration operation linked to fraud, is exactly what is going on in Palm Beach County, FL. A friend does voter registration there and has run into these paid employees that are also doing voter registration. One thing I didn't see mentioned in your article is that the paid people have registrees fill out a survey before they fill out the registration form. I assume so that they can know which party the registrees are likely to vote for and destroy and Democratic ballots.

Thanks

Bears repeating:

the paid people have registrees fill out a survey before they fill out the registration form

Got Mine in the Mail

I got my "application" in the mail the other day and it appears to be legal and is from the NC Republican Party.

The message talks about Democrats' spending and kicking them to the curb.

The "application" is in the form of two completely blank (white both sides) 8.5" x 5.5" postcards that you can tear out, write on, and mail in to request your absentee ballot. There are instructions on how to do this as well as the address of the County Board of Elections.

Thanks SPL

In 2008 McCain sent out incorrect information to voters. Catching these things early helps keep them on the straight and narrow.

Greg - Just received a

Greg - Just received a follow-up robo call from "Dell with the Republican National Committee" regarding "the absentee ballot application that (I) should have received in the mail" (I did not). I was instructed to "just sign and return" as well as "vote republican". Dell left a call back number of 866-960-8209. I tried to *69 but it didn't work.

Kathy

Thanks. It is possible they were working with an old number associated with someone else. Earlier this year I discovered someone tried to reach me at a number I haven't used for 14 years after they got the number from a Democratic database.