In the closing days before the Iowa caucus, the very first primary of the 2016 election, Ted Cruz is having a bit of a panic moment. Having enjoyed high polls in Iowa for months, his disastrous last debate performance and general unlikability have him falling fast. In his desperation to win, his campaign decided to try to lie and shame voters into showing up for him – and absolutely NOBODY is happy about it.
This week, Iowans began waking up to find a scary looking note in their mail. On yellow paper made to look like a ticket, the letter reads “VOTING VIOLATION” and creepily names the homeowner and their neighbors. The instructions are even more pathetic.
You are recieving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. Caucus on monday to improve your score and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.
In other words, Cruz’s campaign is trying to scare unknowing Iowans into voting (preferably for him) by threatening to make them look bad in front of their community. What’s more, Cruz’s name only appears in small print at the top of the envelope (and no where on the “ticket” at all). It would be easy to open this up and see “VOTING VIOLATION” blaring at you in read and think you were actually in trouble.
How scummy is this tactic? So scummy, in fact, that one of Cruz’s biggest endorsers actually swore Cruz would never do something as low as this. He didn’t know it at the time, but Cruz’s campaign had already confirmed that it had. Yes, they really are that desperate.
It now appears that Cruz’s underhanded tactics have even caught the eye of Iowa’s state government – and they weren’t amused. Iowa’s Republican secretary of state, Paul Pate, released a statement strongly rebuking Cruz’s campaign for trying to pull something like this. He has a personal beef with it too, because Cruz’s campaign – in all of its hubris – decided to name his office in the mailer. It implied that Iowa’s state government was complicit.
“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.”
It is, of course, important in a democracy that people vote. (Ironically, Cruz has been instrumental in preventing people from voting. But only the ones he doesn’t like.) However, there are any number of reasons why a person would have a “low score” in these ridiculous fliers and still have contributed to the voting process. Some may have been out of state residents who vote by mail. Others may have simply decided to not participate in a Republican primary in which all candidates don’t seem to represent their values. In any case, it’s not up to Ted Cruz and his desperate campaign to shame a person for not doing what he would like. Worse, making it appear as if the mail recipient is in violation of a law, can make people even more fearful of the voting process.
Cruz’s campaign has long been built on lies and smears, but it’s becoming clear that in his frenzy to catch up with Donald Trump, he’s lost all sense of perspective.
Feature image via Jamelle Bouie/Flickr