WTOC Investigates: Concern over election flyers ahead of Georgia runoff

Updated: Jan. 4, 2021 at 6:13 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - There have been a lot of political commercials and online ads leading-up to Tuesday’s runoffs. But people have also been bombarded with flyers.

Thousands of flyers have been sent to homes across Georgia. In some cases, they make what seem like outrageous claims. WTOC Investigates one flyer, that claimed to know who you vote for.

We heard from a couple in Baxley, John and Virginia Owen. The Owens were shocked by a flyer claiming to know who they and their neighbors have voted for.

And they aren’t the only ones who got it.

Our investigation found it’s from a company out-of-state, that the secretary of state says doesn’t have that information. It’s from a group called, “The Center for Civic Information.”

At the bottom, it reads, “inside: your neighborhood’s voting grade.” When you open the letter, it reads, “some people keep blindly voting based on party alone.”

It also had a chart grading their neighborhood’s voting history, compared to other neighborhoods. While it didn’t reveal who she voted for, it gave Virginia’s neighborhood a D-plus and warned, “you and your neighbors will all know which neighborhoods vote the candidate, and which just vote for the party. So, don’t be a party voter.”

Owen says she could not believe it.

“I was shocked. My first thought was, ‘what in the world. This is new to me.’ And, first off, you’re not going to tell me how to vote and when to vote,” she said.

WTOC Investigates looked-up The Center for Civic Information. As it turns out, it’s a company registered not in Georgia, but Virginia.

And it was just formed in December, almost exactly a month before Tuesday’s runoff. There was no contact information, but we did find a web site - centerforcivic.info.

When you visit, it reads, “The Center for Civic Information encourages all Americans to participate in our Democracy.”

It also includes links where people can register to vote. At the bottom of the site, it asks for people who got something in the mail from them, for their feedback.

Last week, WTOC submitted a request for an interview. As of Monday night, we have not heard back.

The Owens say they hope it doesn’t affect how - or if - people vote.

“It may intimidate them to possibly change their vote, and not vote the way they want to.”

WTOC reached out to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. Communications Manager Walter Jones confirmed that no one would be able to know who any Georgian has voted for.

The only information legally available is which party’s primary you’re registered to vote in and whether you voted, but not the candidate.

He also told us that while they’ve reviewed a lot of flyers, he has yet to see any that break the law. Jones did not comment on this specific flyer.

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