Wisconsin GOP plots vote suppression


MILWAUKEE - A coordinated plot by the Republican Party, tea party and billionaire Koch brothers to suppress the vote in Wisconsin on Election Day has been exposed. One Wisconsin Now, a progressive voter advocacy group which exposed the plot, has sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department requesting an investigation.

Wisconsin is a battleground state, with Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold engaged in a close race against millionaire businessman Republican Ron Johnson. The governor's race has Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Barrett trailing Republican Scott Walker, the Milwaukee County executive.

Johnson, who has the support of FreedomWorks, the group behind the tea party movement, advocates privatization of Social Security and has been blasted by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO for opposing unionization of his workforce and wanting to cut unemployment benefits.

The vote suppression plot centers around the use of "caging," a technique utilized heavily by Republicans and the extreme right wing over the past few election cycles. It is targeting heavily Democratic voting blocks, primarily African Americans, Latinos and university students.

In the "caging" practice, letters are sent to targeted voters to intimidate them by saying they have to call a number and verify their information or they will be removed from voter rolls.

And if the letter sent to a voter is returned as undeliverable, the voter's name is put on a list and their eligibility is challenged on Election Day.

Denying a person's right to vote in this way is patently illegal and a violation of federal law.

Voters who are challenged will have the option of returning home to get the necessary documents to prove their residence or to reregister. This will discourage many voters from returning.

The other option is to vote by provisional ballot. But voters must return the next day to validate their ballots, and provisional ballots are not counted 35 percent of the time.

Americans for Prosperity, the outfit funded by the billionaire Koch brothers which used various front groups to fight the president's health reform legislation and other initiatives, and whose efforts to take down the Obama administration were exposed earlier this summer in a lengthy piece in the New Yorker magazine, agreed to send out the letters to voters.

The Republican Party has provided the voter database, and has agreed to train poll watchers and arrange for attorneys to be present to challenge voters. The tea party will provide Election Day volunteers.

One Wisconsin Now legally obtained a tape of a meeting where the discussion of the plot took place. In it, Tim Dake, leader of the Wisconsin Tea Party known as the GrandSons of Liberty, is heard saying:

"So, what we're hoping is that the various groups in the coalition plus Americans for Prosperity and Mark Block [head of Wisconsin Americans for Prosperity], and this is coming all the way from the top: Reince Priebus [chair of the Wisconsin GOP] has said, ‘We're in.' And there's a reason why these guys are volunteering to work with us. They have access to what they call ‘Voter Vault,' you know the records of voting. They can go in there and look for lapsed voters. They can go in and compare lists of voters and say, ‘Oh look at this. This person is registered in this county, this county, this county, and this county.' And do something about this. So we're talking about a broad based support behind this idea. What they're offering is training."

In an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sept. 20, Dake claims the voter suppression plot was shelved. But according to Scott Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, the group has e-mails from as late as Sept. 17 proving the plan is active.

"The Tea Party groups and Americans for Prosperity are claiming their collusion with the Republican Party of Wisconsin is long over," said Ross. "Then why did Tim Dake from the Tea Party send these documents from the Republican Party outlining the voter suppression plan and the non-disclosure agreement five days ago?" he asked.

"We need the authorities to investigate these allegations to guarantee that every voter has the right to cast their ballot in the election," said Ross. One Wisconsin Now is urging anyone who received the mailing to contact the organization at 608-204-0677. For more information about the alleged voter caging plot, visit SaveWisonsinsVote2010.org.

Progressive radio host Thom Hartmann said on his show Sept. 20 that 8 million votes were suppressed by Republican tactics in the 2008 elections, and 6 million in 2006. It is not clear if plans similar to what is unfolding in Wisconsin are being made in other states for this year's elections.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tinfoilraccoon/3005537118/ cc 2.0


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  • As someone who has extensive experience working at the polls on election day in Wisconsin, I am unclear to the accusation of caging. I have worked at the polls in University communities with large student populations. The fact is, they move alot and don't often update their identification. Then show up at the polls where they voted previously either because they were too lazy to update drivers licence or it was more convenient for them. The polls have become laxed in recent years and these students have been allowed to vote without any further verification. On the one hand I praise them for voting, yet on the other, their actions adversely impact local elections and local candidates as well integrity of the process itself. This is a huge problem, especially in tightly contested races. The letters that I have read do not threaten them, it simply asked them to respond so that rolls can be updated to insure accuracy and integity of the voting process. If the letter is returned because it is undeliverable that serves as effective way for the voter roll to be updated so that poll worker will be prompted to verify the address and insure that the voter is at the correct voting location. Before you pass judgement on me and place a Republican or Tea Party or some other label on me, I want you to know that I hold to beliefs of President George Washington who believed in election process but despised political parties. I embrace our electoral process but believe that both parties and powerful interest groups have severely damaged it, and it is this that deters civic responsibility and grows apathy. This article clearly has been written from the self interest of a political party or some political interest group. It is equally damaging to voting process as the accusations that they are making.

    Posted by T.B Tucker, 10/15/2010 1:27pm (5 years ago)

  • This story is filled with factual and logical errors, and I believe the author knows that. Freedomworks is but one of several national groups that wants to claim to head the tea party movement, not THE group behind it. As a member of the coalition, and a participant in the Marshfield meeting that was secretly recorded, I can tell you that at all the coalition meetings, IF the name Freedomworks was mentioned, it was in passing only. I only know of 2 coalition participants who have gone to any "national" meetings, and I can assure you that they are the exception rather than the rule among Tea Partiers.

    Also significant is that there is some diversity of thought among the individuals and groups that participate in coalition meetings. In fact, half the groups in the state participate little if at all with the coalition, so there is NO one voice that speaks for the movement. These facts seems to be lost on many of its critics.

    Once upon a time, there was an AFP plan to do this voter fraud project, and it was thought that the coalition would form a team to work on this project. That never happened. The group leading the anti-fraud effort that is moving forward is doing so on its own, and not under the auspices of AFP or any "Tea Party" group. There is NO coordinated effort to work with this organization, only to inform coalition members that this is an activism opportunity.

    As to suppressing the vote, sure we are trying to suppress votes-the second and subsequent votes of the dishonest, the votes of those who are not qualified to vote, including those who do not live in the state, those who are dead. YOu would think that all honest people would have an interest in this effort. I even suggested that we invite Democrats to join us in cleaning up the vote. Listen to the recording and you will hear me suggest that. Tim Dake himself is heard saying that we are not after anyone because of race, nor do we want anyone eligible to NOT have the right to vote. Scott Ross, One WI Now, and the author of this article and the Democrat Party clearly have no interest in honest voting. Your team is in the curious position of wanting ethical behavior (protecting the integrity of the vote) being made illegal, and UNethical behavior (fraudulent voting) being legally protected. You folks sure have revealed that you have absolutely no claim to the moral highground.

    You want a real scoop? Most groups in the WI Patriot Groups Coalition are increasingly disaffected with AFP, and a number of them will never work with AFP again. Most of those that will, will do so only in a limited way. Kinda upsets your idea that this is some monolithic movement, doesn't it?

    Clearly this is a dishonest effort to taint the honest efforts of Republican candidates and the Tea Party movement, and perhaps to rile the lefties into voting. Why do you not report the real story, that is, that voter fraud took place wholesale in WI during the last election, and that honest and sincere efforts are being made to insure that it does not happen again?

    FYI, I am no lawyer, but I encouraged Tim Dake to countersue both Scott Ross personally and OWN. I suspect he will win and win big time if he follows my suggestion. Be sure to print that story. If you need help with the fact and logic behind the story when it breaks, I would be glad to help you with both. Maybe we could even have Scott on the Hartmann show doing mea culpas. Maybe we could even have Tim on the Hartmann show when this is over, so that his lefty audience can get some training in real, sound principles.

    To all you would be fraudulent voters out there, let me tell you that it will not be as easy as in the past. Not only Tea Partiers, but the Attorney General and law enforcement officers in many communities will be alert to fraudulent activity, and you WILL be prosecuted if caught. No doubt the twisted mind of Scott Ross and company will try to see a sinister plot in all this, but remember, sinister means left, and from the left comes the real corruption, the real fraud.

    Posted by Ken Van Doren, 10/12/2010 9:09am (5 years ago)

  • The media in Wisconsin isn't covering this because they listened to the actual tapes and found nothing there. No one is running forward with one of these letters, so where is the real proof of intimidation? In the actual recording, it says they would turn over information to the authorities, not act on this at the polls. Again, where is the real proof of attempted voter caging?

    Both DEM and GOP are obligated to provide poll watcher training. The state and local election boards are required to purge outdated voter information. What we have is citizens attempting to do what the government is refusing to do.

    Another reason this won't work is WI allows voter registration at the polls. Kind of hard to cage someone when they can register on the spot and vote.

    Posted by JQP Wis, 09/24/2010 3:18pm (5 years ago)

  • Will the right wing stop at nothing? Those responsible for this should be arrested and prosecuted.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 09/23/2010 1:39pm (5 years ago)

  • Fascist Danger

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 09/23/2010 12:40pm (5 years ago)

  • Seriously,this is no matter to take lightly.
    Vote suppression is anti-democratic. In this context it is markedly racist. It is also markedly anti-female.
    With the vast displacement in living patterns caused by the greed for more and more profits and plunder,pushed by big real estate,big banks and big capital,paying practically negative or no taxes,failure to push for stronger civil and voting rights in law and policy is backwards.
    How many lost homes and rental properties because of foreclosures,both renters and landlords going broke,in the current recession,with displacement of voters and citizens?
    No less than millions. How can this be corrected to especially now,let democracy have a chance?
    What can we call the forces,which with this backdrop deliberately work to purge the polls of the growing unemployed,underemployed,hungry,homeless,and the most vulnerable elderly and youth?
    Anti-democractic? Barbaric? Racist? Anti-American? Facist? All are accurate.
    Thanks for helping to expose these G O P vote suppressors of working people in the U. S. around this critical election of 2 November 2010.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 09/23/2010 12:33pm (5 years ago)

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