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Wisconsin: Reports of Attempts to Suppress Anti-Walker Vote

Emmelle Israel

Reports of sketchy robocalls, misleading e-mails and even canvassers urging  people not to vote have marred a day of Wisconsin recall elections otherwise notable for heavy turnout and enthusiastic volunteers. If the recall is successful, voters end the short-but-rocky tenure of Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

As of 6 p.m. in Wisconsin, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law had received 1,310 phone calls through its voter hotline. The majority of those calls have  been about polling locations and new requirements to vote—mainly a new requirement that voters prove 28-days of residency in Wisconsin.

“A residency law like this has so many ands, ifs and buts. It’s ambiguous. It’s not an easy law to understand,” said Lawyers’ Committee spokeswoman Dara Lindenbaum. The number for voter questions is 866-687-8683.

The Lawyers’ Committee has also received complaints about robocalls urging people not to vote if they signed the petition to recall embattled Republican Gov. Scott Walker, Lindenbaum said.

Callers to the hotline also reported polling places with enormous lines and others that have run out of ballots.

"We’ve heard reports about robocalls telling people that if they signed the recall petition they didn’t have to vote,” said Reid Magney, spokesman for Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board.

I hope people know enough not to trust what they hear from robo-calls or see on stray emails or hear from canvassers coming to their doors.

Most of the problems come down to the sheer number of voters who have gone to the polls, Magney said.

This is a closely watched election, and the track record of some county voting officials isn’t good. Most notably, anyone who follows Wisconsin elections probably remembers Kathy Nickolaus, the Republican elections clerk who “found” thousands of votes after last year’s recall of Wisconsin senate Republicans who sided with Gov. Walker’s attacks on the rights of public employees to bargain collectively.

The U.S. Department of Justice has dispatched poll monitors to Wisconsin to “watch and observe” the election, said a spokeswoman, who declined to provide more details. 

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