Religious Right Tries Hand at High-Tech Voter Registration, Fails
United in Purpose is a Religious Right group formed to register conservative Christian voters for the 2012 election. With connections to the American Family Association and Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign-launching prayer rally, UiP’s stated aim is to register 5 million new voters before November.
Funded in part by Silicon Valley venture capitalists, the organization hopes to use advanced “micro-targeting” technology to buy massive amounts of consumer data, identify the unregistered voters likely to support conservative candidates, and equip volunteers in their neighborhoods to go door-to-door and sign them up.
Unfortunately, it looks like their ambitious plans have hit an initial snag. Barbara Bradley Hagerty reports:
The first person on [volunteer Scott] Spages’ list lives in a gated community. The guard won’t let him through, so he makes a phone call. He identifies himself and asks if he can speak to Orlando, who — according to UIP’s database — is not registered to vote. Spages listens, then says, “Oh, OK. So, Orlando and everyone in the house is registered? OK.”
Puzzled, Spages drives to the next house. There, too, everyone is registered. It happens again at the next house and the next, so when Spages reaches Brenda Jacobson to ask if she wants to register, he’s not surprised by her answer.
“Well, I’m registered, so I’m not sure why my name showed up,” she says.
“We found that a lot tonight,” Spages responds, “so I’m going to have to double check that.”
As it turns out, all of the names on the Florida list are registered voters — a mistake that United In Purpose discovered after NPR’s reporting. In South Carolina and Iowa, the UIP lists also contained registered voters.
Even in states where the lists are correct, UiP volunteers are finding a lot of unregistered voters are that way for a reason:
“I’m sorry, they’re all crooks and you’ll never be able to blame me,” the woman says, declining the registration form Clymer offers.
“I’m just trying to get Christians to go out and vote,” Clymer protests.
“Well, I’m a Christian, but that’s as far as this is going to go,” she says, and closes the door.
Clymer leaves, discouraged.
“I wish at least one person would take it,” she laments.
But no one takes a registration form that afternoon.