Justin Grimes/ Creative Commons A sign directs voters to their polling station.
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Ever since the 2016 presidential election campaign it seems like people have started ignoring the notion of personal privacy. Offensive letters that were recently sent to L.A. voters is just one more step toward the nation’s complete disregard of confidentiality.

People received shaming letters that revealed the information about whether or not they voted in the past three elections. The frightening thing about these notices is that they also had the information about the receiver’s family members, friends, neighbors or just people they know.   

Whoever wrote these letters doesn’t seem to actually care about politeness, since it begins with:

WHAT IF YOUR FRIENDS, YOUR NEIGHBORS, AND YOUR COMMUNITY KNEW WHETHER OR NOT YOU VOTED?”

I personally always feel as if someone is rudely yelling at me whenever I see text that’s fully capitalized. That one sentence puts so much pressure on the reader that it seems like the only purpose of it is to provoke and enrage them.

People who received shaming letters told L.A. Times how they felt about it. Elizabeth Hines, a court reporter from Burbank was one of the receivers and she shared her opinion about the incidence:

“I don’t give a rat’s ass who votes,” she said, adding that she wants to know who’s responsible for sending the letter. “Tell me who they are. I have that right. They know who I am, they know where I live,” she said to L.A. Times reporters.

So far it’s still unclear who mailed those letters. No contact information or address was provided, except for the name of organization “California Voter Awareness Project”, which also didn’t lead to any additional information about the sender.

A short text in the letter blames people for not voting and then threatens them that all of that information will be publicized, so that everyone they know will find out whether they voted or not. They also promise to send a new one with updated information about the election of May 16th, 2017.

The end of the letter is as polite as its beginning:

“DO YOUR CIVIC DUTY—VOTE!”

To be honest, I still don’t understand the necessity of it being capitalized, since it doesn’t make me feel like I want to go and vote now, but rather it makes me want to do the opposite. If they are so concerned about people failing to vote, they probably should’ve taken a different approach to solving that problem.

For sure, the election of 2016 has become a huge deal for the whole country. People started to treat privacy with indifference in order to provide more nasty facts about the candidates. That’s how Hillary Clinton’s right of privacy was ignored when her emails were revealed to the public, or when her medical history was released.

Though the data about the voters is open to the public and technically these letters aren’t against the law, the fact that someone uses that information to force people to vote is far from ethical. Furthermore, blackmailing people and using information about their loved ones and acquaintances makes voters feel harassed, which will lead to nothing but anger.  

It’s hard to tell for sure what was the main purpose of those who sent these shaming letters, but if it was a new approach to appeal to voters’ conscious, I think, they failed, since it just stirred up unpleasant feelings in people. Whether a person voted or not, there is no way they should be harassed for that.

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