Sunday, October 14, 2012

This week in WisGOP corruption pt. 2- absentee ballot fraud

Last Friday, the LA Times reported the Wisconsin GOP paid a company headed by scumbag election fraudster Nathan Sproul over $500,000 in last year's recall election, and today the Journal-Sentinel picked up the story (although they have conveniently buried it in their "Newswatch" segment.) As the L.A. Times reported on Friday, this is a newly-named company called Issue Advocacy Partners and the company
has been advertising for $15-an-hour workers for “conservative voter identification” in Virginia, Wisconsin and Iowa.

‘No experience is necessary!” says the ad, first reported by the liberal blog BlueNC. “All you need to qualify is a positive attitude and a strong work ethic to get the job done.” The ad says applicants must pass a criminal background check.
And you didn't think Republicans believed in job-creating programs...

This is especially interesting given Sproul's background and the GOP's attempts to keep their connections to his company hidden from the public. Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee were working with Sproul's Strategic Allied Consulting this year, until they allegedly fired Sproul's company in September after SAC was found to be committing voter fraud. Among other items, Florida officials
discovered numerous registration forms that appeared to be filled out in the same handwriting, some including wrong addresses and birthdays. Some of the forms switched addresses and party registrations, including changes from Democratic or Independent to Republican, said [Palm Beach] county elections supervisor Susan Bucher.
But it's not like this was the first time Sproul was accused of fraud, as the article points out
[Sproul] said he created Strategic Allied Consulting at the request of the Republican National Committee because of the bad publicity stemming from the past allegations. In 2004, there were allegations in states such as Nevada and Oregon that employees of his firm -- which had a similar contract with the RNC -- registered Democratic voters and then destroyed their forms. (Sproul noted that no criminal charges were ever filed.)
The Republicans knew they were dealing with a sleazebag when they gave Sproul the contract - they just hoped they wouldn't get caught.

Now compare this to a story that came out the week before the recall elections, where  there were several reports of duplicate absentee ballot requests in pro-GOP Waukesha County. And the complaint sounds a whole lot like what Sproul's company was accused of in Florida.
[Delafield City Clerk Gina] Gresch said that on Tuesday her office received in the mail two absentee ballot applications with similar handwriting.

One of the applications was for an address on Hillside Road and the other was for an address on Hillside Court. Both addresses are in the Hillside Road neighborhood south of Highway 83/I-94.

Because of the suspicious appearance of the applications, Deputy Clerk Ellen O'Brien contacted the telephone numbers listed on the applications. Individuals who live at those addresses told her they did not request ballots and said they would be voting in person in the election next week, according to Gresch.

Gresch said the applications appeared unusual to O'Brien because in each case one application sought ballots for two individuals, and both applications were in the same neighborhood.

"We also find it very odd that the handwriting is very similar on both cards," she added....

After confirming that he was a registered voter, an absentee ballot was mailed to him. However, later in the afternoon he arrived at City Hall and cast an absentee ballot.

After election officials discovered he had cast one ballot and another had been mailed to him, Gresch contacted him.

The man said he did not recall applying for an absentee ballot. However, he said a couple of weeks ago a man came to his door and asked him to sign something, according to Gresch.

"(He) said he was asked to sign something with other people's names on it, but he wasn't really sure what he was signing and that it seemed weird," Gresch said.
So when Sproul's company was hired by WisGOP to do "door-to-door canvassing" ahead of the June 5 recall elections, you have to wonder what they were really doing for the GOP. It may be mere coincidence that what was reported before Wisconsin's recall election is the same type of thing that got Sproul in hot water in Florida, but as I've said before, there is very little in politics that is coincidence.

Related to that, Internet journalist Greg Palast mentions another form of absentee ballot fraud that may have happened in the Wisconsin recall election, as part of an interview on GOP voter suppression Palast did with Stephen Whitney that went online this week.
I was just up in Baraboo, Wisconsin this week, and in Baraboo Obama won [in 2008] by 28%. That’s a crush, right? And yet, in the recall vote, Scott Walker won it big time. (EDIT: Palast is right about 2008's election numbers wrong about the recall election stats, Barrett won it 54-45, but there were other rural Wisconsin areas that had strange blue-to-red flips). Now, come on, how does that happen? Well, let me let you in on a little secret. The secret is called Themis. Themis is the Koch Brother’s magical vote munching machine. It’s a data mining operation. It does two things. It’s capable first of something that’s creepy but legal. They fill out ballots for their own voters, mail them and tell them to sign it. It’s all perfect so they’re beyond challenge. So their voters are all taken care of basically, they’ve already been voted for if they sign.

Then, the Themis machine is capable of doing all the caging, all the challenging, the purging, and the blocking at the polls to keep away the voters....

The Koch Operation, Americans for Prosperity, had its Chief set up a front called United Sportsmen of Wisconsin. United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, which appeared and then instantly vanished after the recall vote, using the Themis machine, were able to identify likely Democratic absentee voters in key recall areas. Because there were also votes, by the way, on legislatures. The Themis machine was able to get the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin to identify Democratic voters, send them letters saying here’s where you mail in your ballot, and here’s the deadline. The address was a phony, it was their own, and the date was after the legal date for submitting an absentee ballot. So, either way, you were fucked like a duck. The Sportsmen basically were hunting Democrats. That’s how it worked. And again, as Bobby Kennedy says – he’s Dean of Law School at Pace University – this is a crime. And it’s a double crime when you add in the fact that most of this is racially targeted.

Keep it in mind when you start seeing mailers and commercials from groups you've never heard from over these next 3 weeks- they're probably front groups like "United Sportsmen of Wisconsin."

There's even more on sketchy absentee ballot procedures for November from Baggerific Waukesha County, as earlier this month it was reported that voters in the open Senate district race in that area may be getting duplicate absentee ballots. And the confusion goes directly to decisions made by Scott Walker's office.

First, Walker hired current State Senator Rich Zipperer in July to be his Deputy Chief of Staff, replacing 30-year old GOP hack Ryan Murray who left to take a 6-figure, taxpayer-funded job at the troubled WEDC, despite zero private sector experience. Then, Walker had the choice on when to have the election for Zipperer's replacement, and he decided not to choose to have the GOP primary during August's primary elections (which would have saved quite a bit of money for the local communities) or in September, either of which would have put the general election in November along with every other race. Instead, Walker chose to have the primary during the November elections, with the general election following in December.

There's a big problem with this- it's forced two types of ballots that have to be printed. As the Lake Country article notes
the deadline for filing candidacy petitions for the primary election is not until Oct. 9, which is well after the time when state and county election officials print and distribute absentee ballots for the November general election. Consequently, voters who apply by mail to cast absentee ballots will receive two ballots - the second to accommodate the primary candidates once the filing deadline has passed.

According to the state Government Accountability Board, individuals who have applied for absentee ballots by mail will receive a paper general election ballot ("G" ballot) that does not include the state Senate primary contest. Voters who receive this ballot may cast it immediately, if they want.

If the ballot is returned immediately, it will not be counted until the Waukesha County election canvass is conducted on the Friday after the election (Nov. 9).

The absentee voter might opt to wait until mid- to late-October, when they will receive the second ballot. This ballot ("S" ballot) will include the state Senate primary as well as all of thecontests in the regularly scheduled general election.

If the absentee voter casts the "S" ballot, local election officials will reject any "G" ballot the voter might have cast earlier.
Well, unless they're not diligent about noting who voted, then they might "accidentally" count these votes twice. You know, kind of like how there were 17,000 more votes than ballots cast for the 2006 A-G race in Wisconsin, which allowed J-B Van Hollen to win over Kathleen Falk. And even though she is leaving office in January, Kathy Nickolaus is still in charge of elections in Waukesha County, and two months ago she nearly destroyed Waukesha County's recall election ballots in violation of state law until public pressure made her back off.

But again, maybe Walker's wasn't thinking too clearly when he made the hire of Zipperer and set off this chain of events that led to Waukesha County Republican voters getting 2 types of ballots for election day. Just like Walkergate, maybe Scotty's just that stupid.

And if you accept that explanation at face value, you probably would be surprised by the sun rising in the east tomorrow. I put nothing past WisGOP malfeasance, and hiring cheaters like Nathan Sproul and "accidentally" having duplicate ballots in Waukesha County would be right in their wheelhouse.

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