By Lauren Gibbons and Simon D. Schuster
MLive and Michigan Campaign Finance Network
LANSING (Sept. 9, 2020) — As Election Day approaches, political candidates, political action committees and other groups will be flooding Michigan voters' mailboxes with campaign material - and we want to see your examples.
Political mailers have long been a mainstay in campaign outreach, a glossy, concise message that aims to leave a lasting impression. Reaching people through the mail is an especially important tool for state and local candidates, who may be unfamiliar to voters.
And during the COVID-19 pandemic, political mail is the new handshake, said Julie Joles, a regional account manager at Northern Michigan printing and marketing company Mitchell Graphics. Joles anticipates this will be the company’s largest year ever in terms of political mail volume.
“I think direct mail is really more relevant than ever with people not necessarily wanting to go door-to-door,” Joles said. “I’m not necessarily wanting to open my door up to anyone right now, outside of my own family and my own workspace.”
But mailers attacking an opponent or issue can be misleading - and it’s not always clear who is footing the bill.
Candidates aren’t the only ones funding mailers that get sent to prospective voters' homes. A variety of dark money organizations that either avoid revealing their funding or evade campaign finance rules completely also send mail supporting preferred candidates and issues.
With money pumping into Michigan political campaigns at record-breaking levels, knowing who’s funding all those glossy flyers in your mailbox is more important than ever.
This fall, Michigan Campaign Finance Network ans MLive are partnering to follow the money behind campaign mail around the state.
To do that, we’re asking for Michigan residents to send us examples of the political mail they’re getting this cycle.
What we’re looking for:
How to participate:
And that’s it! MCFN and MLive will use submissions to help track where and how money is being spent to influence voters throughout the state, particularly in hotly-contested elections. If you prefer to use the postal service, you can also forward the mail to MCFN's address below:
Michigan Campaign Finance Network
600 W. Saint Joseph St. Suite 3G
Lansing, MI 48933