Conservation voters group mails absentee ballots
The Maryland League of Conservation Voters is mailing 130,000 absentee ballot applications to registered voters -- an effort that could prove beneficial to Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and other candidates endorsed by the environmental group. The applications are expected to begin showing up in mailboxes today.
This marks the largest voter outreach effort by the Maryland group. In 2006, the conservation league sent out applications and postcards to 70,000 voters. (That was the first election after absentee ballot rules were loosened. There's no longer a need to provide a reason for voting by mail.)
The voter outreach is funded through the league's nonprofit educational arm, so the applications come with no partisan political message, said Cindy Schwartz, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.
Neither red nor blue voters are targeted -- only green ones.
Schwartz said the mailing list was compiled in part by selecting voters most likely to agree with the pro-environment positions taken by the league. An algorithm developed by the National League of Conservation Voters reviews publicly available consumer and voting data to find the greenest voters. The national group has been doing absentee ballot mailings for more than a decade, Schwartz said.
A report about the 2006 Maryland outreach showed that environmental voters cast absentee ballots in higher proportions than the rest of voters. But the mailings had no appreciable impact; had those voters not cast absentee ballots, they probably would have shown up on Election Day, the report said.
The league used those findings to tweak its approach this time around, Schwartz said. For one, the absentee ballot applications now look "more generic."
"We don't want it to be seen as another piece of campaign mail to be tossed aside," Schwartz said. "We want it to be seen as a serious piece of mail."
All registered voters have until Oct. 26 to request an absentee ballot. Check the state Board of Elections web site for details.