This week, conservatives pushing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage have been decrying what they say is "intimidation" from their opponents.
At issue is a new Facebook app from Minnesotans United for All Families, called "The kNOw Tool." According to a story in CityPages, prominent amendment supporters are taking to social media, saying the tool will let MN United campaign workers bully and badger same-sex marriage opponents. In an interview with Patch, an MN United spokesperson categorically rejected the claims from Minnesota for Marriage spokesperson Andy Parrish and amendment backer state Rep. Mary Franson.
The app essentially lets MN United supporters participate in a phone bank from the comfort of their own homes. First, a voter identifies the Facebook friends they want to call. Then, the kNOw Tool website prompts them to call their friend, and record the person's stance on the marriage amendment. If the caller wants, they can even request a MN United campaign worker give their Facebook friend a follow-up phone call to try to convince them further, or remind them to get out to the polls on election day.
On Wednesday, Parrish tweeted:
Are your neighbors voting YES for marriage Public #VoteNo database allows you to look them up. #intimidate #stribpol
CityPages reports that, in a Facebook post, Franson called the kNOw Tool a way "to see who doesn't support (MN United's) way of thinking."
"Talk about a vile way to win," she added.
On inspection of the app, Patch can confirm that it does not, in fact, let the average user look up whether a person is likely to vote yes or no on the amendment.
"The claim that you can look up people who are voting yes is an outrageous lie," MN United spokesperson Kate Brickman told Patch in an interview.
Brickman said that some of the confusion could have come from a Facebook post from MN United campaign manager Richard Carlbom, who said that the app would match supporters' friends lists with a separate list of "targeted voters." Brickman said that Carlbom's wording was innaccurate.
The app does let MN United track likely "yes" and "no" votes and it encourages supporters to call friends they think will vote "no," she said, but it is no different from the many traditional phone banks both sides of the issue are using as critical components of their respective campaigns.
"This gives people an opportunity to continue having these conversations on their own time from comfort of their own homes," Brickman said.
The "Vote No" campaign is predicating much of their strategy on what they call "personal conversations" between coworkers, friends, and relatives.
"Our research shows that people are 67 percent more likely to vote "No" when they have personal conversation with someone they know who'll be personally impacted" by a same-sex marriage ban," Brickman said. "It's important that our supporters talk to the people in their lives. In California the people who already felt strongly about voting no (on Proposition 8) assumed that a lot of the people in their lives knew their positions and were voting no, as well."
With polls showing the vote evenly split between amendment supporters and opponents, it's a sure bet that both sides will be looking at every way they can to get an edge on the other side.
Ed. Note: This story was updated on Sept. 18 at 12:03 p.m. to include comments from Minnesotans United for All Families.