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Dori: Voter-shaming mailers may have cost EvergreenHealth its election

We have an update on the voter-shaming mailers sent out to Eastside voters by the EvergreenHealth Foundation on behalf of the Kirkland hospital’s Proposition 1 bond campaign.

The bond is failing. It needed 60 percent of votes to pass. In the latest count, the proposition had about 58.5 percent votes of approval.

As we told you in an exclusive story last week, the campaign tried to get people to vote for its $345 million ballot measure by sending out voting report cards to tell residents how good or bad of voters they were, based on their voting record over the last few years.

EvergreenHealth Foundation apparently sends out mailers to shame voters

One side of the pamphlet was set up like a kid’s report card, with a statement telling the person what grade they got as a voter. The large letter grade was printed in red and circled, as if a teacher had penned it.

On the other side of the mailer was a chart comparing the resident’s voting record since 2015 with the records of five neighbors, identified by first name and last initial. Under each year, the mailer indicated with green check marks or red X’s whether the people listed had voted.

Voters contacted me in outrage after receiving these voter-shaming mailers. They said, “If EvergreenHealth is going to vote-shame me, I don’t know that I want to support them in this campaign for my tax dollars.”

Additionally, many residents told us that the mailers’ charts were incorrect. Although the information displayed was supposedly based on public records, voters looked up their records on the King County Elections website and found that their voting records did not match the charts on the mailers.

I had the EvergreenHealth Foundation’s director on and she apologized profusely. They had been bombarded with people who were furious at being shamed by a hospital. The director explained that the pamphlets were designed by a consultant they had hired. I told her they might want to get a different consultant next time.

I heard from a bunch of people who told me that they were originally going to vote for the proposition, but changed their minds after receiving these voter-shaming mailers.

Did that make a difference in the outcome of the election?

In a relatively small hospital district, the difference between 58.5 percent and 60 percent is not a huge number of voters — it’s about 1,000 people.

This might be a case where people who wanted $350 million in bonds may have cost themselves that bond through the very mailers they sent out to win votes.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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