By: Karina Gerry and Remi Schott
Democratic candidate Perry Gershon accused republican congressman Lee Zeldin of sending purposely misleading mailing with the wrong deadline to return absentee ballots to College-aged voters and Democrats.
“It’s an irresponsible, anti-democratic strategy of deliberate deception,” Perry Gerson said in an email to The Osprey. “Lee Zeldin is resorting to desperate suppression tactics to try to save his floundering campaign.”
The mailing had Nov. 6, Election Day, as the last day to send in ballots, but the deadline is actually Nov. 5. This is the second time Zeldin’s team has sent out mailing with the wrong deadline for absentee ballots, the first occurred during the 2016 election.
Zeldin’s campaign denied Gershon’s claims, stating that the mailer mostly affected ‘non-Dems.’
“Age and race had absolutely zero bearing whatsoever on who the mailing was sent to,” Chris Boyle, Congressman Zeldin’s Campaign Communications Director said.
Despite requests, The Zeldin campaign failed to produce a list of individuals who received the mailings and their political affiliation.
“The Zeldin campaign can say whatever they want about their misleading mailers, but we know for certain that students and Democratic voters did receive this,” Alexandra Dakich, the Press Secretary for the Gershon campaign said. “The fact that they printed the wrote date on absentee reminder mailers two elections in a row, we stand by our claim that this was a suppression tactic.”
According to a study published by The Hechinger Report, on Oct. 30, “six of ten millennials supported the Democrats in 2016, and the millions of newly eligible young voters are even more liberal on average.” The report then went on to explain that because of the high number of Democratic voters “several recent Republican-led voting reforms have been aimed at suppressing the youth vote.”
“Being given false information as to when to send in an absentee ballot for it to be counted towards an election is such a hindrance to our democratic power,” Noah Plofker, a registered democrat who received a mailpiece with the wrong deadline said. “A lot of us don’t have the time to double check every piece of information we are given. We are supposed to trust authority figures, yet sometimes they seem to be the least trustworthy.”
Plofker, a full-time student received the mailpiece on Oct. 20th.
Another study published by the Pew Research Center, states that voters like Plofker are part of the largest share of the electorate: Thirty-four million millennials voted in the 2016 election, constituting 25 percent of the votes cast. But in 2018, an estimated 8 million more Americans will be eligible to vote, meaning that Generation X, Millennials and the post-Millennial generation will make up a clear majority of voting-eligible adults in the United States.
“This mailer disproportionately affects the very people we, as College Democrats of New York, represent,” a spokesperson for the College Democrats of New York said, in a press release published . “Countless college students across the country rely on absentee ballots to make their voices heard in the communities they grew up in and continue to call home. Congressman Zeldin providing incorrect voting information is a clear attempt to silence the voices of many of his constituents.”
The owner of PDQ Print and Mail, the printing company responsible for Zeldin’s campaign mailpieces, said that the mistake was not a voter suppression tactic but rather a simple mistake.
“The Zeldin Campaign had sent and approved the piece with November 5th (the correct date) but in a printing error, the wrong file was printed,” Scott Nordin, owner of PDQ Print and Mail said. “A new run with the corrected date was then immediately sent back out.”