Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap answers questions during a Bangor Daily News event in 2018. Credit: Gabor Degre

AUGUSTA, Maine — Mainers who recently received a letter addressed to a dead relative asking them to register to vote can simply throw it away, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office said Wednesday.

“Numerous” people have complained to the office about recent mailings with handwritten letters to Democrats asking them to register to vote alongside sending a voter application with the secretary of state’s address on a return mailer, according to a Wednesday news release.

The problem is the group, California-based Vote Forward, was using outdated voter registration lists, and some of the mailings were addressed to dead people, according to complaints to Dunlap’s office, which said those communications can be thrown away without calling to correct any information.

“While it is very upsetting for family members to receive letters addressed to deceased relatives, accessing public records is legal, and no Maine election laws are being broken,” Dunlap said in a statement.

Vote Forward sprung up around the 2017 special U.S. Senate election in Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones narrowly defeated Roy Moore, a Republican who had been accused of sexual misconduct. The group said people who received handwritten letters from its volunteers were more likely to turn out for that race.

The secretary of state’s office provided an example of the communication, which contains a small-print disclosure saying no state election officials were involved in it. But Dunlap spokeswoman Kristen Muszynski said 30 people mailed forms back to the office, with most of them thinking it came from the secretary of state.

Vote Forward did not immediately answer questions on how old its voter data was and how many communications were recently sent to Maine, but information provided by Muszynski indicated that it only had names and addresses and not dates of birth. The group says it typically purchases voter rolls from third-party groups.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...