A campaign strategy used by the citizens group advocating for the Castle Rock School bond rubbed some voters the wrong way, and they voiced their concerns on Facebook on Wednesday.
“We want to know the name of the person who tried to get into others’ personal info and published a list of people’s names who hadn’t voted yet,” posted Becca Ward. “Yes, your nasty plan of using it to guilt trip people was leaked.”
In an attempt to get voters to the polls, the citizens group requested the list of registered voters who had not cast their ballots by Tuesday. Jessica Lakey, founder of the group, said she emailed the list to all her group members and asked them to call or text anyone they knew personally to vote yes on the bond. Voter registration records are public, including whether a person cast a ballot (how they voted is not recorded, of course).
The intention was not to harass voters, Lakey said.
“Nobody wants to get a stranger calling them to ask why they didn’t vote. Obviously ... that makes people angry and makes them vote no,” Lakey said. “We know that. We don’t want to be irritating or be perceived as politically annoying.”
District employees also received copies of the list, said Superintendent Jim Mabbott. It was unclear Wednesday who first passed the list along to school employees, or if the list was shared with anyone else.
Some Castle Rock voters said they felt bond supporters overstepped their boundaries by “bullying” people into voting.
“I feel we failed our kids by not passing this (bond). I just feel that a list of who have and haven’t voted doesn’t need to be used,” Ward, a mother of a Castle Rock first grader, told The Daily News Wednesday.
Lakey said requesting such a list is a common political campaign practice, and the names are publicly available to anyone who pays a small fee. Lakey did not know who covered the cost for the citizens’ group, but she said it was likely the member who first requested the list. The district did not provide any funds for it, Mabbott said.
Lakey said the citizens group was “diligent about staying within the rules.” While school employees cannot ask voters to support a bond while they are at work or by using school money and resources, they are allowed to campaign on their own time, Lakey said.
“If a district person had this information that’s public knowledge, and then on their own time on their own cellphone asked someone to vote yes, we would not have been breaking any official rules,” Lakey said.
Lakey said she is worried the “rumor mill” about the list might hurt the changes of a future bond measure.
“I think people think it was private information that was illicitly obtained, and that’s how people are portraying it,” Lakey said. “So now we are trying to do some damage control.”