Call for Action: Voter Participation Center letters confusing voters

Published: Sep. 15, 2016 at 8:13 PM MDT
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A Colorado Springs woman was suspicious after getting a mailer from the Voter Participation Center with "Government Document enclosed" printed on the front.

A woman, who only wanted to be known as Sharon, said in her household it's just she and her dog, Pearl. So she was suspicious after getting a notice in the mail, addressed to "Newly Eligible Voter."

The letter said, "according to public records, you will be 18 years old before the next presidential election and may be eligible to vote."

The Voter Participation Center, or VPC, also enclosed an easy-to-fill -out Colorado voter registration application along with an envelope, making it convenient to just drop it in the mail to the El Paso County clerk.

The problem: Sharon isn't 18 or turning 18, and she is already registered to vote and has been for decades.

"I think anybody could use it," she said. "I know it says you can correct your address, but if I was not truthful or honest I could put my dog's name and fill out a registration form for her."

Sharon said she had never heard of the VPC before, but the nonprofit, nonpartisan group based in Washington, D.C. has been around for 12 years.

According to a statement from founder and President Page Gardner, it has helped a total of 3 million people register to vote.

In the past decade in Colorado alone, Gardner said the group has helped register more than 114,000 people — with 24,000 applications turned in just this election cycle.

Gardner said VPC is dedicated to increasing voter participation among those who are historically underrepresented, like unmarried women, African Americans, Latinos and millennials.

She added states don't have lists of people who are unregistered to vote, so VPC spends significant resources to fine-tune their lists to make sure they're reaching the right people.

So, if you get one in the mail and you shouldn't have, Gardner said to disregard it. You can also be removed from the mailing list


It's something that Sharon said she'll do and hopes the group will update her information.