Today's article about the vaguely intimidating letter received by local voter Danielle “Embyr” Lindner has prompted several responses from readers who have seen these kinds of letters before.
Quick recap: The letter offered an unsolicited "audit" of Miss Lindner's voting record, along with the voting records of six neighbors, thanked her for her participation in past elections, and said it would audit their voting again after the election.
It all seemed a little Big Brotherish to Ms. Lindner, 24, who was planning to vote Libertarian in this election.
According to some scholarly research that has turned up, the letter was, indeed, designed to shame her into voting.
The letter came from the group Americans for Limited Government, a conservative political action committee based in Fairfax, Va. Ms. Lindner may be a Libertarian now, but in 2008 she voted Republican.
Toledo City Council President Joe McNamara alerted me to a 2008 article in American Political Science Review that described an experiment in which this type of letter raised turnout about 8 percent.
"Based on her Republican history I can see where conservative groups would target her to get her to the polls, they think, to vote for Mitt Romney," Mr. McNamara said.
David Koeninger, a lawyer at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, said the letter is a typical social pressure letter intended to guilt or shame young people into voting. Political scientists have been studying these techniques and found that they were helpful in encouraging people to vote.
"According to reports I’ve seen, groups from both the right and the left are using them, including the group that sent the mailer described in your article," Mr. Koeninger said.
Here's the link to the same social pressure mailer going out in North Carolina.
Another reader said that the liberal/progressive group MoveOn.org sent out the same type of letter, according to this article in Slate.