Not long after my blog post ‘Vote’ Early and Often for the Walker Recall Election went up last week, this hate-tweet came in:
Corporate front group/rightwing slime @HeartlandInst have questions about us, but choose not to pick up phone & ask. #hacks #cowards
“Rightwing slime?” Wow, that’s a new one in the ad hominem attack language the Left uses against Heartland. We take it as a compliment because we obviously hit a nerve. And it also reflects that at least some Lefties have guilty consciences about taking advantage of defects in Wisconsin recall election law in an amoral and reprehensible way.
My post last week described how supporters of the Gov. Scott Walker recall petition drive are urging “qualified electors” in Wisconsin to sign recall petitions more than once. It is not illegal to do this, though only one signature counts, recall supporters note. The post was based on news reports by the MacIver Institute, here and here.
But to un-count these multiple signatures, they have to be detected in the first place. And that’s exactly the problem.
Under state law, recall organizers need 540,208 signatures from valid “qualified electors” to succeed in scheduling the election next year to recall Walker, who was elected governor in the November 2010 general election. This number is 25 percent of the total votes cast in the 2010 gubernatorial election. A “qualified elector” is defined under state law as a Wisconsin resident over the age of 18. A “qualified elector” need not be a registered voter.
Wisconsin’s so-called election watchdog, the Government Accountability Board (GAB), has no legal obligation to detect multiple signatures on recall petitions, so they won’t be doing so. Nor are they required to verify whether recall petition signers are “qualified electors” – meaning the signers are not dead people, are over 18 years of age, and truly are Wisconsin residents.
Checking the petitions for validity will be up to Walker forces, the GAB says. All the GAB is required to do is to “determine by careful examination whether the petition on its face is sufficient.” That alone will cost $625,699 in additional GAB funding.The GAB is entitled to presume – and does presume – that whatever information petition signers chose to provide to fill in the petition’s blanks is valid. According to a GAB spokesman:
[C]hecking addresses, verifying ages, etc., is by law the responsibility of the incumbent. If the incumbent files a challenge that says John Smith does not live at 123 Main Street, Onalaska, then the GAB must determine whether the challenge is correct and the name should be struck. The same is true if the challenge says 500 Franklin Street in Milwaukee is a vacant lot, or if John Smith is not yet 18 years old.”
Checking the Walker recall petitions to ascertain whether signers are “qualified electors” is easier said than done. That’s probably why the GAB won’t be doing it.
There is no single database identifying by name and address every single person over the age of 18 who lives in Wisconsin. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are 4.3 million such persons. There are lists by county of registered voters, but these lists will do only for starters, since a “qualified voter” need not be a “registered voter.” The USPS has lists of “mailing addresses” in the United States, but these lists don’t identify which addresses are actual residences and which are uninhabitable offices like day offices to help the homeless.
Nor will the USPS lists identify all occupants of a particular address. And the USPS lists often contain errors, as the Milwaukee Police Department Special Investigations Unit found out when it used them in its investigation voter fraud in the 2004 presidential election in 2004. Complicating verification is the fact that recall organizers plan to submit as many as one million signatures.
And the Walker camp has only ten days to verify all one million signatures.
There are obvious defects in Wisconsin recall election law, and these defects ought to be corrected. It’s too late now, but recall organizers are taking unfair advantage. It’s a classic example of “the end justifies the means.”
Two comments on my blog last week asked for proof its statements were true. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s PolitiFacts Truth-O-Meter confirms it.
Two comments on my blog last week stated that recall proponents would be checking for and redacting duplicate signatures and shamed me for not saying so. This may be true – and I hope it is. But I can find no such reports either on the website of One Wisconsin Now, which urged duplicate signatures, or elsewhere.
One comment stated I was wrong to quote John Fund of the Wall Street Journal saying felons cannot vote in Wisconsin. “It is not unusual for a felon to be a tax-paying, legally employed Wisconsin citizen. We allow them to vote,” the comment stated.
To clarify, Fund referred to felons who voted even though they were under post-prison supervision by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. Felons under supervision are not allowed to vote. The Milwaukee Police Department investigation found 220 felons under supervision voted in the 2004 presidential election.
Another comment stated the spring 2011 election for the state supreme court was delivered to the Republican candidate, David Prosser, by “a Republican whose resume includes prior campaign fraud. I guess our author [that would be me] forgot to mention that part for some reason.”
Last, a comment state the MPD Report did “NOT find an “illegal organized attempt” at voter fraud, except with respect to some employees of a 527 Political Action Committee who campaigned in Wisconsin, cast votes there, but didn’t live in Wisconsin during the rest of the year.
But read the entire MPD report and decide for yourself. Many parts of it point to an organized attempt at voter fraud: About 5,000 more votes were cast in the City of Milwaukee than there are registered voters in the city. This is a considerable amount, considering John Kerry won the state in 2004 by only about 11,000 votes.
The report also found many dozens of homeless people registered at illegal “residences” and double-registered – sufficient to affect the outcome of local elections.
It also found 5,217 registered voters who listed their residence as a single University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee dorm with a capacity of only 2,600 students.
In addition to the 220 felons under state supervision who voted illegally in 2004, five such felons were actually hired as official election inspectors who work at the polls on election day. 18 such felons were sworn in to register voters in “Get Out the Vote Drives.” Of these, eight were from ACORN.