The real voter fraud problem | WisCommunity

The real voter fraud problem

[img_assist|nid=63922|title=Good book|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=125|height=178]Now that the recall elections are winding down (two more to go; don't forget to vote Aug. 16 if you live in the districts of Democrats Robert Wirch and Jim Holperin), maybe we can get the Republicans to finish up their ostensible project to prevent vote fraud. Starting with their own backers.

As it turns out, the biggest threat to vote integrity appears not to be individual citizens who vote in the wrong place or more than once or illegally altogether, but organized political institutions that clearly engage in vote suppression. The examples from this round of campaigns have been clumsy and absurdly transparent:

* Mailers turned up from Americans For Prosperity Wisconsin (funded in large measure by the notorious Koch Brothers), addressed to voters in two of the Republican-incumbent recall districts. The mailers asked recipients to fill out an absentee ballot application, and send it in by August 11, two days after Election Day. Americans for Prosperity told newsmen that the misinformation was “just a typo.”

Further, the mailer return address was to a place described as Absentee Ballot Application Processing Center, which is not an official government name or address. Indeed, the PO Box address appears to be used by other conservative groups. Yeah, mail your anti-Republican absentee ballot to...the Republicans! That'll be safe.

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert joked that voters might as well send their absentee ballots to Santa Claus in care of the North Pole.

* Meanwhile, Wisconsin Right Life engaged in similar sleight of hand via robocalls from D.C. to Democratic voters. Questioned by reporters, an organization spokesman said the wrong date for the election just referred to plans to send an absentee ballot for one of the later elections. Oh, really? Gee, thanks for being so clear and ahead of the game. Judge for yourself. Here's the script from the robocall:

“Hello, this is Barbara Lyons from Wisconsin Right to Life. I’m calling today to let you know that you will be receiving an absentee ballot application for the upcoming recall elections in the mail in the next few days. These recall elections are very important and voting absentee will ensure that your vote is counted and that we can maintain a pro-family, pro-life state senate. We hope that we can count on you to complete that application and send it back to us within 7 days.”‘

But any Democratic voter who followed Lyons' advice for the Aug. 9 elections would have been unwittingly disenfranchised. Even if they were careful enough not to send their ballot back in care of the opposition. Arguably, Right to Life hoped that some voters would be confused by the message and not act in time to vote, given the seven-day language in a contest where there was far less time than that to actually file an absentee ballot -- thanks to Republicans, who had just enacted a new state law to narrow that window. Must be more of that swell bipartisanship Gov. Walker is suddenly spouting about.

All this from the political partisans who are also busy shouting that people shouldn't trust government anymore.

A Government Accountability Board (GAB) spokesman offered Wisconsin voters good advice: Those voting absentee should contact their municipal clerk for the proper forms. “Don’t trust a political party or interest group to get you your ballot,” he said. No spit, Sherlock!

But besides issuing mere cautionary news releases, the GAB ought to get tough. Election law and GAB rules ought to provide sanctions for, and ban the mailing of, absentee ballots by third party groups altogether, since all it does is add to the obfuscation and confusion we already are experiencing in our election process.

Telling voters HOW to get an absentee ballot from an official election office? No problem. Sending the ballots to phony return addresses while listing wrong deadlines for submission? That's like pretending to be a police officer and then claiming when you are caught that you were only trying to make a citizen's arrest.

As always, the watchword here should be: Make them accountable. We're talking to you, "Accountability" Board. 

As for Republicans: A political party sanctioning such unethical behavior clearly doesn't have much faith in the ultimate appeal of its own policy convictions. So, GOP, quit it out with the hypocrisy and carnival sideshow hucksterism, already. Either you're for clean elections altogether, or your Voter ID law is just, along with your legislative district gerrymandering, another effort at partisan vote suppression, like these latest scams perpetrated by your enablers. Come clean or stay dirty. We'll be watching. 


August 11, 2011 - 8:47am