But (sniff) Grumpy Old Teacher has always been an A student.

Down in the Bold New City of the South (actual city motto), we received this treat in our mailboxes a few days ago. It’s a little blurry, but the postcard informs each recipient, “When we follow up after the election, we hope you have voted and we can update your grade.”

Teachers, stop laughing.

Also, this: “DID YOU KNOW? Whom you vote for is private, but whether or not you voted is public record. Don’t let your community down by forgetting to vote again.”

That is correct. Voting participation is available to anyone who wants to request the records, but no one knows how the actual votes anyone makes because the ballots have no identifying information about who cast it nor is that information captured by the Supervisor of Elections office.

Nevertheless, people were concerned. A local reporter also received one of these. Like GOT, he has voted in every election so the C+ grade is a puzzlement.

We can discern the answer by examining the postcard more closely. Unlike the name and address of the recipient viewed on the right, printed onto the card by machine with standard black ink, the grading portion on the left is in dark blue. The font also shows that the C+ and B+ grades were part of the stock design. It is not personalized.


The purpose is clear: An emotional manipulation to guilt people into going to the polls in order to keep up with the neighbors, an attempt to put social pressure on people to vote. In GOT’s opinion, this is a clumsy attempt.

Nevertheless, people were concerned. The Supervisor of Elections, Mike Hogan, had this to say, “This disarms the voter. When someone sends him information about how they’ve been voting, they think, in their minds, do they know who I voted for? But of course, in Florida, I don’t even know, the supervisors don’t even know how a particular voter voted.”

Maybe this is a cunning attempt to keep people from voting? In these DeFascist days of Florida’s governor, where giving a child a book that contains LGBTQ+ characters could be deemed a third-degree felony, people trying to live their lives without undue interference may decide to forego voting entirely as they don’t want to be known as not having the approved opinion or not making the only approved choice.

And that is why GOT, tired as he is from showrunning the first week of AP testing, is working (pro bono, as always) on a Saturday morning. Who are the people behind the postcard? The Florida Watch PC.

A local PAC. Curioser and curioser.

They’ve been around since 2020, raising about $3.2 million dollars and spending about the same. But their registered agent is in Homestead, a Dade County (Miami) city. The former agent was in Tallahassee. Are they really a local PAC? Their address is a PO Box, which is fishy.

Looking at more documents, this is not a Jacksonville group. Why does a PAC that is actually located in Dade County care whether Jacksonville voters go to the polls in their local elections that includes the mayoral race?

According to their website, they are a progressive group that “Florida Watch is a communications and research organization with a digital first lens. Launched in the spring of 2020, we serve as the progressive community’s in-state hub for message development, digital communications, and research.”

From Transparency USA, here are the top contributors and payees:

Off-year elections are notorious for low voter participation. In the Jacksonville mayor’s race, Democrat Donna Deegan is outpolling Republican Daniel Davis. However, the only poll that matters is the one that takes place at the precincts when voters cast ballots. To win, Deegan has to get voters to the precincts and it would seem that the mailer is an attempt to aid that process, which is not to say that there is any connection between Florida Watch and the Deegan campaign.

Was it an attempt to guilt progressive or Democrat voters to cast a ballot or an attempt to get conservative or Republican voters too paranoid to cast? Who knows?

Republican politicians have moaned for years about the lack of civics education in the schools as they connect that to … GOT doesn’t know what. But they have mandated courses and standardized testing across the years. The latest is the Florida Civic Literacy Exam, which all college students must take and pass along with enrolling in a mandatory college course about Civics if they are going to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

What Civics lessons should we get from the mailer?

First, an ability to recognize an attempt at emotional manipulation to produce the desired response. The mailer was stupid. Long ago, in his junior high school years, GOT took Civics in 9th grade. The very first lesson was about advertising and how to recognize the techniques used to trick people into the desired response. The Florida Watch PC mailer was bad, but is a useful lesson in how to keep a skeptical mind about information that arrives unsolicited.

Second, the internet is a purveyor of misinformation and political interference. Russian bots, anyone? But it is also a useful tool in seeking out truth. GOT is done today. He will leave it to professional journalists to track down the people behind Florida Watch and report more about who this group is, what they do, and why.

An informed citizenry is a powerful citizenry in keeping politicians and the power-hungry in check.

Let’s keep at it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s