An out-of-state Tea Party organization recently called a "GOP front group" by a Texas judge is again intervening in Wisconsin's recall election and perpetuating unfounded fears of "voter fraud," a spectre also raised by right-wing media, Governor Scott Walker, and most recently, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Reince Priebus.
With polls showing the recall election between Walker and his challenger Tom Barrett tightening to a dead heat (49-49 in a recent survey by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake), Republicans have been invoking fears of "voter fraud" to cast doubt on a potential Barrett victory, despite repeated investigations finding no evidence of in-person electoral wrongdoing.
On May 30, RNC Chair Reince Priebus alleged rampant voter fraud and claimed Republican candidates "need to do a point or two better than where we think we need to be, to overcome it." Governor Walker made a nearly identical claim weeks earlier, telling the Weekly Standard that fraudulent votes account for "one or two points" in Wisconsin elections. "That's enough to change the outcome of the election," the Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes noted.
Purportedly to combat unsubstantiated claims of "voter fraud," the Texas-based "True the Vote" is coordinating with a variety of Wisconsin-based Tea Party groups to train poll watchers. True the Vote, a spinoff of the Texas-based Tea Party group the King Street Patriots, held election observer trainings across Wisconsin on May 19 with trainers flown-in from Houston, and an online training session on May 29. In the past, True the Vote's poll-watching tactics have prompted accusations of voter suppression.
"Just to know that across Wisconsin ordinary citizens will be trained in proper poll observing gives me hope that those who seek to 'win at all costs' will have reason to give such illegal actions a second thought," said Kim Simac, president of the Northwoods Patriots, one of the Wisconsin-based Tea Party groups involved in the effort.
GOP operatives and right-wing media outlets have long stoked unsubstantiated fears of "voter fraud," but in Wisconsin, the fear-mongering has just kicked into overdrive.
Five of the top ten latest stories on the right-wing MacIver Institute website suggest early voting is proof of leftist wrongdoing, including a story raising questions of fraud by high school students who "use class schedules to prove residency." Breitbart's Big Government wrote on May 27 "expect unions to pull out every stop over the next ten days" and warns of the "Left Mobilizing Massive Vote Effort in Wisconsin."
Right-wing talk show host Charlie Sykes of WTMJ Milwaukee declared: "If this election turns out to be neck-and-neck; if it turns out to be decided, let's say Tom Barrett were to win this election by, say, 7,000 votes, I can tell you right now: There is not a single conservative, not a single Republican in the state of Wisconsin that would think that was a legitimate election, that it was not stolen... if you had the photo ID, people wouldn't have been happy about it, but at least they would have realized the legitimacy of that election." A Wisconsin court recently declared that the state's new voter ID restrictions placed an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.
Sykes and other right-wing outlets appear to be taking their cues from Governor Scott Walker, who told the Weekly Standard last month that "there's no question why they went to court and fought [to undo] voter ID," and claimed fraudulent votes account for "one or two points" in Wisconsin elections. RNC Chair Priebus repeated that claim on May 30, also alleging vote fraud makes "a point or two" difference in Wisconsin elections (when asked about Priebus' statements, Walker said "I don't have any reason to agree or disagree" and "I don't know what percentage to predict," despite having predicted the exact same percentage as Priebus just a few weeks before).
"I'm always concerned about voter fraud," said Priebus. "I think it's been documented."
It has not. A year-long, in-depth investigation into the 2008 election in twelve Wisconsin counties by the the state's Republican Attorney General netted just 20 charges -- mostly for former felons who did not know they could vote in the state, and only two for committing the in-person fraud that requiring identification is intended to prevent. Slate's Dave Weigel points out that for Walker to be correct about fraud equaling "one or two points" in recent elections -- where 3 million people cast ballots -- there would need to have been between 30,000 and 60,000 fraudulent ballots.
While "voter fraud" has been shown to have no impact on election outcomes in Wisconsin, requiring identification at the polls can make a statistically significant difference. According to testimony in the recent court decision striking down Wisconsin's voter ID law as unconstitutional, over 220,000 people in the state currently lack the identification required under the legislation. Many of those who lack the specific kind of ID that would be required are people of color, the elderly, and students -- populations that tend to vote for Democrats. Similar provisions to make it harder for Americans to vote have been enacted in another states since the 2008 elections, after the American Legislative Exchange Council approved voter ID restrictions as "model" legislation to push in states across the country. ALEC-inspired voting restrictions have been exposed by the Center for Media and Democracy and challenged by civil rights and good government groups, and even by the U.S. Department of Justice.
With Wisconsin's voter ID law on hold for the recall election (pending an appeal by the Walker administration), these traditional Democratic constituencies will have fewer burdens to participating in their democracy.
Unless True the Vote and Wisconsin Tea Partiers impose new burdens.
The True the Vote and Tea Party poll watching effort is allegedly organized to thwart "illegal actions" at polling places, apparently because Wisconsin's voter ID law was struck down as unconstitutional. But in the past, True the Vote's poll watching efforts have reportedly had an impact to similar to the ID laws -- suppressing votes by Democratic constituencies.
In the 2010 election, True the Vote reportedly recruited thousands of volunteers to patrol Harris County, Texas polling places for "fraud and other problems at the polls." While the volunteers were unable to find any hard evidence of intentional voter fraud, they did draw accusations of voter intimidation from election officials, with volunteers "hovering" behind people as they cast their ballot, "getting into election worker's faces," and blocking or disrupting lines of voters. The incidents, which were described as "systematic and organized," occurred in minority districts and were directed at African-Americans and Latinos.
After those elections, the Civil Rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the group and its voter intimidation efforts.
Also in 2010, the Texas Democratic Party filed a complaint alleging that True the Vote's poll watching and other activities amounted to an in-kind donation to the state's Republican Party, in violation of the state's ban on corporate contributions and the group's charitable 501(c)(3) status. In April, a Texas judge ruled against True the Vote, calling them a GOP front group, not a nonprofit.
While the voter ID law will not be in effect for the Wisconsin recall election, newly-enacted rules requiring a voter reside at their current address at least 28 days will pose special burdens for the hundreds of thousands of university students in the state. The school year ended in mid-May, and dorm leases ended May 20, so students moving back with their parents for summer or subletting a summer apartment may not be able to establish 28 days of residency before June 5.
Past reports suggest True the Vote has traditionally focused on voters of color, but Wisconsin's new laws could present an opportunity for some to try to harass Americans who are college students and want to exercise their right to vote.
The Texas-based True the Vote first intervened in Wisconsin politics earlier this year when it worked with Wisconsin Tea Party groups on the so-called "Verify the Recall" project, which aimed to uncover "duplicate signatures, questionable practices, and downright fraud in the gubernatorial recall effort."
The groups recruited volunteers from around the country to enter the Wisconsin recall petitions into a massive online database, then released "findings" alleging hundreds of thousands of the signatures were invalid -- but as the Center for Media and Democracy reported, the group's claims did not stand up to even limited scrutiny. They sought to discount around 280,000 signatures because of data entry errors on the part of "Verify the Recall" volunteers or because petition signers made simple errors like writing their city in the "street address" section, none of which would make the signatures ineligible under Wisconsin law. The "Verify the Recall" groups would have approved just 584,000 signatures as "eligible," far fewer than the 930,000 actually certified by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB).
Despite "Verify the Recall's" erroneous findings, the Walker campaign sought to incorporate their claims to challenge the recall petitions, rather than use his considerable campaign war chest to conduct an independent review. The GAB rejected Walker's petition.
True the Vote said their "involvement in the petition review [was] simply to help uphold the integrity of the process." But as CMD noted at the time, their misleading assertions, inaccurate data, and dishonest framing did little more than undermine and cast doubt on the process they claimed to uphold.
The Texas-based group is making similarly pious claims about its involvement in poll watching for Wisconsin's recall elections. "All we are doing is encouraging people to take a pro-active role in upholding the integrity of their elections, and in this case, restoring faith in our election process," said True the Vote's founder and president Catherine Engelbrecht in a May 18 press release.
But with no evidence of voter fraud in Wisconsin, and True the Vote's history of alleged voter suppression tactics, their "pro-active role" may hurt the integrity of Wisconsin elections more than it helps. Still, the alarmist discussion of voter fraud from True the Vote, right-wing media, and top GOP officials is useful to cast doubt on the outcome of the June 5 elections if Tom Barrett were to win. Their focus on discrediting election results could suggest the GOP is concerned about internal and public tracking polls showing the race tightening.
Link to original article from PR Watch
MADISON – Concerned Wisconsinites packed halls in Milwaukee and Madison this week to testify against Governor Walker’s regressive 2013-15 biennial budget proposal. Over the course of three hours, residents spoke out during public hearings hosted by Democratic members of the state Joint Finance Committee in opposition to key elements of Walker’s budget proposal, including the proposed expansion of school vouchers, the politically motivated rejection of federal Medicaid dollars, and Walker’s anti-middle class tax plan.
At the hearing held Tuesday in Madison, Edgewood College Student and United Wisconsin member Zach Madden testified...
United Wisconsin | Press Release 27 Apr 2013 Hits:1378 Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Lawmakers from the Joint Finance Committee are holding a public hearing in Greendale Thursday, April 4th to discuss Gov. Walker’s proposed budget and to get feedback on a wide range of issues from taxes, residency rules, BadgerCare, education and mass transit.
Before the hearing began, nearly 50 people held a rally outside the Greendale High School auditorium. Those individuals are asking the state Legislature to change the budget to accept federal funding to expand the state’s healthcare program for the poor and disabled.
Governor Walker rejected billions of dollars...
Angelica Duria | Fox6Now 09 Apr 2013 Hits:482 Wisconsin
Television spending in this year’s race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court topped $1.1 million, with nearly 70 percent of spending coming from conservative interest groups, according to estimates released by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake. Incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack, who is part of the Court’s conservative wing, defeated Marquette law professor Ed Fallone in the April 2 election, maintaining the Court’s 4-3 conservative majority.
Television spending for this year’s Supreme Court race was lower than in recent years, where contentious races put Wisconsin fifth...
Brennan Center for Justice 04 Apr 2013 Hits:647 Wisconsin
As parents of children with special needs, it is critical to explain the facts behind Senate Bill 486 and Assembly Bill 110, which would allow students with disabilities to attend a public school outside their district or a private school with a taxpayer subsidy. These bills will erode the rights and protections for children with special needs that have been fought for by the people in Wisconsin. There are countless reasons that there is not one group that advocates for individuals with disabilities...
Jenny Stonemeier, Jenni Hofschulte, Adam Stonemeier, Jasmine Alinder, Anna Moffit and Terri Hart-Ell | JS Online 16 Jan 2013 Hits:428 Wisconsin
One Percent Rubs Affluence in Face of Wisconsin's Middle Class and Working Poor
This Monday, November 5th the doors will open at 7:30 for the Milwaukee Victory Rally with “Paul and the GOP” at Sterling Aviation on South Howell at Mitchell Field. The event will begin at 9:30. These are the folks who are the “job creators”, the ones whose “Pathway to Prosperity” for the 1% requires the “pathway to Austerity” for the 99%. It is unbelievable that they can say that they understand the middle...
Keith Roberts | Uppity Wisconsin 06 Nov 2012 Hits:909 Wisconsin
On Oct. 25, Oshkosh Corp. announced that 450 employees will find themselves without jobs in January. While the national debate rages over economic recovery and job production, hundreds of Wisconsin families are left in uncertainty, with unemployment and hardship waiting to greet them in the new year.
Oshkosh Corp. has been a stable employer for longer than most of us can remember. What began as the Wisconsin Auto Duplex Co. in 1917, today Oshkosh Corp. sells and services products in more than 130 countries. ...
Mike Helbick | JS Online 02 Nov 2012 Hits:617 Wisconsin
Update: Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said Friday that protesters have the right to march on State Street and refuse to pay for police services the Police Department recommends, though they could encounter inconveniences, such as traffic from buses.
Madison police have begun charging groups to march down State Street, sparking discord with the Madison Area Peace Coalition and leaving organizers of the 42nd annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival fuming.
Representatives of both groups say they will likely march without a permit this weekend...
Sandy Cullen | Wisconsin State Journal 06 Oct 2012 Hits:450 Wisconsin
What a time it is to be living in Wisconsin and to be engaged in politics. The Milwaukee County chapter of Progressive Democrats of America celebrated its one-year anniversary recently by attending and representing PDA at Fighting Bob Fest. It was just a year ago – when I had the pleasure to sit down and meet with Conor Boylan, Tim Carpenter, Jim Carpenter (my PDAMC Co-Chair), Thom Hartmann and others – that the seeds were planted to form our PDA chapter in Milwaukee County. Since then we...
Robert Hansen | MilwaukeeDems.org 01 Oct 2012 Hits:396 Wisconsin
WASHINGTON -- The Democrat hoping to defeat Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan in his other race is alarmed by a matter close to the congressman's heart: his obsession with Ayn Rand.
"It's a bit disturbing that somebody in such a position could be so heavily influenced by what was obviously really bad fiction," Rob Zerban, the Wisconsin Democrat vying for Ryan's House seat, told The Huffington Post. Wisconsin election law allows Ryan to run concurrently for vice president and his current seat in Congress.
Jennifer Bendery | Huffington Post 27 Sep 2012 Hits:939 Wisconsin
Madison - Two Wisconsin state agencies have failed to follow federal law and their own policies in issuing economic development grants, the U.S. government said in a strongly worded letter sent to Gov. Scott Walker's administration.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Aug. 12 letter ordered Walker's administration to improve the distribution of economic development money.
Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said the agency for the most part agrees with the conclusions and the corrective ...
AP/JSOnline 27 Sep 2012 Hits:506 Wisconsin
A Wisconsin judge has struck down the state law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers, ruling the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void. The action comes after a lawsuit brought by unions for Madison teachers Milwaukee city employees. A Walker spokesman said they will appeal. Stay tuned.
Common Dreams Staff 14 Sep 2012 Hits:268 Wisconsin
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is declaring September 17 as “Read the Constitution Day.”
But he should read it himself, both the U.S. Constitution (with special emphasis on the First Amendment) and the Wisconsin State Constitution, since he has been violating the spirit of the first and the letter of the second.
He closed the capitol down during the protests in February and March of 2011.
He had people arrested (including me) for merely holding signs or taking pictures in the State Assembly gallery last fall.
And over the last couple...
Matthew Rothschild | The Progressive 14 Sep 2012 Hits:811 Wisconsin
It’s nearing sunset on Aug. 27 and a festive atmosphere is evolving at the intersection of 7th and Ring Street in Milwaukee's central city area. People are arriving in cars, waving hello and exchanging greetings through their windows. Soon more than two dozen vehicles and 80 people are gathered in the normally quiet area, chatting in the cerulean glow of a perfect late-summer evening. Laughter hums in the air with the mosquitoes.
But this is a serious event, coordinated by an emerging group of ...
Louis Weisberg | Wisconsin Gazette 14 Sep 2012 Hits:509 Wisconsin
De Pere, Wis. (WFRV) - A group of protesters were also in De Pere outside of Paul Ryan's town hall meeting Wednesday.
The rally drew people from across the state to take aim at both Ryan and his running mate Mitt Romney.
The protesters spoke out about Medicare, education cuts and Ryan and Romney's record on women's rights
"If you want someone that's for women, and for their rights, and against violence against women, then Romney is not on your side" Marlo Harmon from Kenosha said.
View video and...
Jim McShea | We Are Green Bay.com 14 Sep 2012 Hits:956 Wisconsin
Representative Paul D. Ryan at a campaign event on Wednesday in De Pere, Wis., where he emphasized his local roots. Both parties see the state’s 10 electoral votes as increasingly in play this fall.
Paul D. Ryan is running for the second-highest office in the land, but a voter might have confused him for a state candidate here on Wednesday, so frequent were his Wisconsin references as he sought to maximize his native appeal.
He mentioned a local purveyor of “this really great jelly,” mentioned that...
Trip Gabriel and Jeff Zeleny | The New York Times 13 Sep 2012 Hits:436 Wisconsin
Sign the PETITION!
November is coming up quickly. And with that come the political ads, yard signs, and phone banks.
But for you, and Wisconsin’s 1st District,
this election cycle will be missing one cornerstone: a debate between Paul Ryan and his Congressional challenger Rob Zerban.
Tell Paul Ryan that you want him to debate Rob Zerban!
Three organizations have proposed debates, and the Zerban campaign has responded with available dates and times, but Paul Ryan has yet to respond.
Rob Zerban and Congressman Ryan have very different ideas about where and how this country should move into the future. Paul...
Tim Carpenter 12 Sep 2012 Hits:611 Wisconsin
Wisconsin's Republican Attorney General is fighting to get vote-suppressing laws in place for the November election, asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reinstate the voter ID law that has been found unconstitutional by two separate state judges, despite that Court rejecting a similar request in recent months.
Wisconsin will be a hotly contested swing state in the November 2012 elections and the elevation of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to the national ticket may have added a new urgency to the efforts to reinstate a new "voter...
Brendan Fisher | PR Watch 24 Aug 2012 Hits:553 Wisconsin
When Dave Schumacher, 51 years old, lost his job in 2009 in U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, he wasn’t alone. Schumacher drove trucks for a supplier company that served the General Motors SUV plant, the economic heartbeat of this blue-collar town. GM consolidated production in Texas and Mexico.
When the four-million-square-foot GM plant on the Southern part of town closed in 2009 after a series of layoffs, it took with it the jobs of some 2,800 employees, the single most significant economic blow inflicted...
Sara Jerving | PR Watch 20 Aug 2012 Hits:697 Wisconsin
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is now running for vice president, after presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney announced him as his pick on Saturday morning. But Ryan is technically also still running for reelection in Wisconsin's 1st congressional district. And according to Wisconsin law, he is allowed to do both.
Reid Magney, spokesman for Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board, told The Huffington Post that Wisconsin has a "favorite son" law that allows Ryan to run for both vice president and reelection in the House.
Wisconsin State Statute...
Amanda Terkel | Huffington Post 13 Aug 2012 Hits:493 Wisconsin
After the announcement that Republican Mitt Romney chose Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate, Gov. Scott Walker and Republican officials throughout the state lauded the choice, although Democrats say Ryan is too extreme.
Calling Paul Ryan a "big, bold choice" for Republican Mitt Romney, Governor Scott Walker told an assortment of media Saturday morning that the Wisconsin congressman will energize the Republican base and bring swing voters along with him.
"Paul is a compliment to Mitt Romney because he doesn't just energize the...
Heather Asiyanbi and Lyssa Beyer | GreenfieldPatch 11 Aug 2012 Hits:504 Wisconsin
There were surprise moves at Milwaukee County Board today. We had hoped for 12 of 18 votes, if we were lucky. We just didn't know if we really had the 12 in the bag. That would be enough to override a veto by County Executive Abele.
Then Supervisor Sanfelippo got up and spoke. He said this subject was not in the purview of the County Board, as did Deanna Alexander. It just wasn't quite what they wanted.
Later, after significant eloquent debate by our sponsor, Jason Haas, our co-sponsors (John Weishan,Willie Johnson,...
Mary Lean 26 Jul 2012 Hits:438 Wisconsin
Although Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker survived his June 5 recall election, Democrats won control of the senate when John Lehman (D) prevailed over incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard …
Republican governors like Scott Walker have vowed to violate federal law if healthcare is upheld by the Supreme Court, by refusing to take action as is the law.…
After a 16-month long fight, an astonishing $63.5 million spent, and a people's uprising that attracted international attention and laid the groundwork for a movement that will last…
Today, all eyes will be watching to see whether Wisconsin voters will keep labor-bashing right-winger Scott Walker (R) in the governor’s mansion. But win or lose, the real…
An out-of-state Tea Party organization recently called a "GOP front group" by a Texas judge is again intervening in Wisconsin's recall election and perpetuating unfounded fears of "voter…
Republican Kathy Nickolaus may be the only county clerk known by name across Wisconsin—and not for a good reason.
Last year, Nickolaus, the top election official in Waukesha County, a …
Volunteers in January celebrate the vast number of signatures—over 1 million—collected to recall Gov. Scott Walker. (Photo by Mark Hirsch/Getty Images)
With the recall election for Walker coming up…
Supporters of Tom Barrett, the Democrat running against Scott Walker in Wisconsin's recall election, have been frustrated with the Democratic National Committee, which up until now has…
Members of Congress Raise Questions about Walker's 2011 Testimony
Three Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee wrote to Chairman Darrell Issa requesting that he obtain clarification from Wisconsin…
PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.
From the Capital Times (2011):
“These days, a lot of it is health-related. ALEC, a strong believer in state's rights, federalism, and the free-market, is fighting federal health care reform tooth and nail. (It also opposes various state efforts to crack down on the health insurance industry and expand coverage.) Since 2005, 38 states have passed legislation crafted by its Health and Human Services Task Force, according to the ALEC guide. Wisconsin promises to soon be one of the star performers. 'There have been boilerplate bills that have similar characteristics to what has been passed here in Wisconsin,' Fitzgerald says. In December, he says, he and 20 to 30 other Wisconsin GOP lawmakers attended ALEC's national meeting Washington D.C. (emphasis added), where a key topic of study and conversation was federal health care reform. The 'State Legislators' Guide to Repealing Obamacare' was handed out at this meeting, and its model legislation discussed. 'A good example of that is a bill Joe Leibham is working on right now,' Fitzgerald says. "Sen. Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan, and Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, introduced the bill Fitzgerald is talking about on Thursday. The 'Health Care Freedom Amendment' would change the Wisconsin constitution to prohibit the government from forcing anyone to participate in any public or private health care or insurance program. The amendment is meant to block the implementation of federal health
Information from Sourcewatch: