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Excerpt: "Another disturbing practice that has occurred in the recall elections is the mailing of fliers telling people how they can obtain absentee ballots. But these mailers, which usually also back one candidate or another, sometimes contain false or misleading information that can effectively disenfranchise the person casting the absentee ballot."

A screenshot of the fraudulent part of an absentee ballot mailer distributed by Americans for Prosperity. (photo: Politico)
A screenshot of the fraudulent part of an absentee ballot mailer distributed by Americans for Prosperity. (photo: Politico)

A New Kind of Vote Fraud

By Sheboygan Press | Editorial

10 August 11


We're sensing a new kind of vote fraud.

housands of Wisconsin voters are going to the polls today to cast ballots in recall elections for six state senators.

Campaigning in these elections has been expensive and, in some cases, downright dirty. Sadly, we've come to expect false and misleading advertising, much of it from third-party groups that slither under the full-disclosure rules that candidates and political parties must follow.

We've endorsed rules in the past that would require everyone who wants to have a say in political campaigns to disclose the names of those who donate money to support their effort. Unfortunately, this hasn't happened.

Another disturbing practice that has occurred in the recall elections is the mailing of fliers telling people how they can obtain absentee ballots. But these mailers, which usually also back one candidate or another, sometimes contain false or misleading information that can effectively disenfranchise the person casting the absentee ballot.

Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board, the agency that oversees elections, said it received several reports in recent weeks of unofficial absentee ballot applications potentially causing confusion among voters.

In some cases, there have been incorrect addresses for where to send the application, or an incorrect date that the ballot must be returned by in order to be counted. The board said it also has received complaints about automated phone calls that have contained incorrect dates and other election information.

If the voter doesn't catch the mistake, he or she may never get the absentee ballot, or find that their legally cast vote didn't get counted because the ballot arrived too late.

When confronted about the false information, the group sponsoring the mailer or robo-call has claimed it was an "honest mistake" or typographical error.

Funny, but these errors usually involve critical information about the casting of a ballot and can easily nullify a legitimately cast vote.

We've just gone through a very trying and sometimes bitter debate about the need to protect the integrity of elections by requiring voters to produce a photo ID at before casting a ballot. This despite the finding of only a tiny percentage of double voting or otherwise illegally cast ballots.

But the dirty tricks of deliberately misleading voters in oder to disenfranchise them is no less fraudulent than someone casting two votes. And giving the number of complaints that have been made in the recalls and most recent presidential elections, we think that this kind of fraud is far more prevalent and even more insidious than the fraud that resulted in photo ID.

Perhaps the lawmakers who were so insistent on photo ID can find a way to rid the state of this new kind of fraud. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+37 # magnumpo 2011-08-10 17:30
i find it interesting that those who point fingers and claim voter fraud are the very ones committing it. since this was so widespread, the wisc gov should accept late mailed votes to be counted.

and it may just be me, but i do not trust the results counted on republican electronic voting machines. especially in light of all the massive protests we've seen in wisc. you KNOW they all voted.
-18 # 2011-08-11 05:56

The article clearly states that these errors have occurred on both sides of the elections. They might have been clearer had they included a sample Democratic mailer error in addition to the Republican one shown here.

Fraud however is fraud and if we find that supporters of one candidate were actually sending these fliers to opposition supporters, they should be prosecuted. In this case however, since I believe the error-filled fliers were sent to sympathetic mailing lists, the errors only disenfranchised their own voters. And this whole thing is very likely a result of predictable human glitches on both sides.

Fraud does exist -- I've seen it myself several times -- Democratic operatives collecting absentee ballots from Alzheimers patients and, in one instance, Democratic polling place workers fudging the results a bit. And voting machines whose tallies cannot be paper verified should be outlawed. And photo ID is not a very effective way to get at any significant amount of fraud.

But this is neither a Republican nor Democratic monopoly (I've only seen Democrats actually committing fraud but that is likely because there are only about 3 Republicans in my community) and our polling place regulations should be even-handed and strict enough to minimize the problem.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+26 # conniejo 2011-08-11 07:51
Where do you see a clear statement that these "errors" have been committed on both sides of the elections? I live in Wisconsin, and that simply is not the case. The flyers were sent to traditionally Democratic districts with populations that might be less likely to be well informed because they are people who have to work so hard to keep their heads above water that they can't afford the luxury of staying on top of all the issues. In the election in our district, the Waukesha County election official who, two days after the Supreme Court election, "found" 14,000 previously-unco unted ballots that just happened to turn the results in the opposite direction was unable, for some reason, to report the election results for the recall in my district until more than an hour after all the other results were in. Could this be because she needed to know how many votes had to be "found" before reporting her results? Stealing elections has become both a science and an art, well-funded by the corporations who have everything to gain by creating an oligarchy. Unless we return to hand-counted paper ballots, with the counting overseen by a bipartisan group at every polling place, we cannot trust the results of any election.
+7 # RSJ 2011-08-11 17:28
@ Lee Nason: In this recent Wisconsin recall election I've read of no tampering or voter misinformation on the Democratic side, but there has been abundant evidence of Republicans indulging in such practices, incluing the notorious Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus again having a pivotal role in deciding the election for GOP incumbent Alberta Darling in the 8th District. Once again, late-appearing vote totals from Menomolnee Falls turned the tide for the Republican, just as the Brookfield vote 'discovery' of over 7,000 votes for Republican Judge David Prosser gave him the victory last April. The only difference this time is that Kathy didn't wait two days to 'find' the needed votes for the Republican to win. Incredibly, and without precedent elswhere in the state, Kathy's final votes out of Menomonee Falls last Tuesday had the voters there going 3-to-1 for Darling, unlike any other part of the 8th District. Why Nickolaus still has a job in Waukesha County after her election fiasco last April is worth an investigation by itself, but for her to have a role in deciding the third seat the Democrats needed to gain a majority is, at the least, suspicious. Somehow, the GOP, as in Ohio and Florida, just keeps making mistakes that turn out to their advantage. Incredible, isn't it?
+17 # Progressive Patriot 2011-08-11 08:14
I have not heard of a single case of voter fraud on the part of Democrats in recent years. All the cases that I've heard of have involved Republicans ... like the removal of alleged felons from the voter roles in Florida, in 2000. Most of them were NOT felons, and most _were_ Democrats. In one precinct, the chairman refused to use the list when she found her own name on it. She challenged the list to the Secretary of State's office.
+18 # universlman 2011-08-10 19:00
if our opponent is prepared to use every dirty trick in the book to steal our rights, the only choice left is to fight
+24 # MainStreetMentor 2011-08-10 20:50
Stop right there. This is the kind of issue that MUST be prosecuted - not just verbally assaulted. The elections were tainted by these actions. The supreme court of the State of Wisconsin MUST be caused to initiate an entire new election - and the entire costs to be borne by the group calling themselves "Prosperity for Americans", their backers, contributors, officials and supporters. This is where Democrats and all Americans who actually want free, unbiased elections must find a backbone and stand up to this kind of unethical, maybe criminal, practices. Otherwise there will be no more honest elections.
+20 # jwb110 2011-08-10 23:25
A Diebolt voting machine can be broken into in under 60 seconds.
+19 # Regina 2011-08-10 23:52
But Diebold ATMs are totally reliable. Isn't that strange?????
0 # photonracer 2011-08-11 19:59
Quoting Regina:
But Diebold ATMs are totally reliable. Isn't that strange?????

Regina is that accurate?
+4 # RSJ 2011-08-11 17:14
In the Wisconsin recall, they weren't using voting machines per se but, in many districts, optical scanners to count hand-marked ballots. No one bothered, especially in the red areas, to check the hand-count against the machine count, so we'll never know if it was accurate. One thing is sure: the optical scanners are just as vulnerable to covert, untraceable hacking as the Diebold machines. BTW, in case you hadn't heard, Kevin Kennedy, the director of the supposedly non-partisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board who investigates election fraud, used to sell optical scanners and other voting equipment to the state of Wisconsin. Move along, nothing to see here.
+22 # Patricia Chang 2011-08-11 00:01
The issue of election tampering MUST be investigated. If I lived in Wisconsin, I would not trust the results of this recall election for one second, given all of the reported dirty tricks, and the dishonesty of Walker, et. al. Koch money can buy a lot of dishonesty, tampering, and corruption. It is what they do best.
+14 # lorraine 2011-08-11 07:21
Wouldn't it be nice if the UN stepped in to monitor our elections to make sure they were free and fair??
+12 # MainStreetMentor 2011-08-11 05:23
This is EXACTLY the kind of issue the DNC and Wisconsin Democrat Central Committee should be saturating the media with, and continue to do so until a complete other election is held! Where are the backbones of the Democrat Party? This is a type of election tampering/manip ulation - why isn't EVERY media, besides Reader Supported News jumping all over this?!?
+8 # tanis 2011-08-11 07:58
The truth shall set you free! If people know the truth, it is their duty to inform the confused. All the fraud is to confuse the innocent and naive. That way they cause chaos which allows them (the perpetrators) to make their moves to power. They may fool themselves into believing they are serving America by serving themselves but money is still the most desired commodity in this country. And that's the truth. I would rather value the truth and spread the news. I sleep well.
+5 # sewper40 2011-08-11 13:21
Isn't voter fraud a crime? Why aren't these people being prosecuted?
+6 # Kayjay 2011-08-11 15:04
Actually, the idea of having the U.N. oversee elections in this "country," seems like a needed ingredient for our elections. It is really sad to see how far we have strayed from a reasonable democracy. It seems these days, that election winners either have spent the most money or have cheated.
+3 # smilodon1 2011-08-11 18:41
This isn't vote or voter fraud. It is election fraud. I wish Obama and his Justice Department had the balls to pursue this and make arrests. But, they just keep letting republicanderth als get away with all sorts of crap and do nothing.
+1 # michelle 2011-08-13 11:06
smilodon1 makes a very important distinction. It is Election Fraud, a very different issue than voter fraud. This is where the focus needs to be.

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