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Absentee voters targeted for campaign mail

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Voters may not realize they're getting more than they bargained for when they sign up for an absentee ballot at Ada County. Sure, you'll get your ballot, pilgrim, but you'd better be ready for an avalanche of campaign mail too. Political campaigns of all stripes get ahold of your address once it's submitted for an absentee ballot. And yes, it's legal.

Every day that Ada County gets a request for an absentee ballot, they send an e-mail to a list of 26 people who request it, said Phil McGrane, an elections specialist at Ada County. A list provided to BW after a public records request shows that Democrats and Republicans in Ada County get the daily list, as well as operatives from the campaigns of Republicans Bill Sali (running for Congress), Butch Otter (running for governor), the 10 Commandments monument boosters, the group promoting Proposition 1, groups for and against Proposition 2, and Sharon Ullman, the indepenent candidate running for Ada County Commission.

"That's why [voters] get bombarded," McGrane said. Mainstream parties get first dibs; McGrane said the county sends a list of all registered voters to the Ada County Democratic and Republican parties, to maintain a "nonpartisan" position, McGrane said.