Voter Outreach Effort Causes Confusion and Panic in Primary States

A group responsible for misleading automated phone messages to North Carolina voters has drawn the attention and ire of state officials in at least seven other states.

Women's Voices Women Vote, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit voter outreach group, says it has been active in 24 states trying to register unmarried women to vote. Mailings and phone calls from the group, however, have confused thousands of presidential primary voters and caused headaches for state election officials.

In Wisconsin, officials rebuked the group for disregarding the state's primary registration deadline. Arizona's secretary of state called the group's mailings "misleading and deceptive" for suggesting that voters were legally required to send back the enclosed registration forms. Michigan officials fielded thousands of phone calls regarding mailings to deceased voters and those who were already registered, according to news reports. In Virginia, the state police launched an investigation out of concern that the groups mailings could be a part of a identity theft scam.

Last week, North Carolina voters received automated messages -- known as robocalls -- from the group telling them to expect a voter registration packet in the mail, nearly two weeks after the mail-in voter registration deadline for the state's presidential primary.

Election watchdogs say the group's track record of missteps, first uncovered by the Institute of Southern Studies, is surprising considering its connections to several well-experienced political operatives, including former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta.

The group says that the North Carolina calls were a part of massive robocall effort in 24 states, not just North Carolina. "We apologize greatly for the confusion this has caused," said Sarah Johnson, a spokeswan for Women's Voices Women Votes. "We're working extremely hard to remedy this."

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